Los Angeles County Well Permit & Drilling Permit

Per the Department of Public Health Drinking Water Program, a “Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit” is mandatory for most environmental, geotechnical and hydro-geological projects in LA County. As of August 2018, LA County enforces stricter well permit guidelines. And the new standards require oversight for soil sampling boreholes deeper than 10 feet. Additionally, permits are necessary for any borehole that encounters groundwater. Lastly, a C-57 Drilling License is mandatory for this process. There are various drilling service categories under the purview of a Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit. And various forms of supporting documents are essential to the application process. Updated April 25, 2020.

Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit
Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit

Los Angeles County Exclusions

Most Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment and remediation projects will require a Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit. However, a Well Permit and Drilling Permit are not necessary for soil gas probe boreholes without soil sampling. For example, shallow soil-gas investigations that do not comprise soil sampling activities, may not require a permit. Moreover, the Environmental Protection Agency exempts the requirement of a drilling permit for Superfund CERCLA sites. Although to qualify for this exemption, there may be additional forms to provide the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

Other Surrounding Cities

Some cities within Los Angeles County, such as the City of Pasadena, Long Beach, Vernon, and more, have their own Health Departments which require Well Permits and Drilling Permits. In such a case, other permits may be required in addition to the Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit.

Environmental Projects with Well Permit & Drilling Permits

Environmental Site Assessments and geological investigations within Los Angeles County boundaries are subject to a variety of permits, depending upon the nature of the sampling. Notably, for locations within the unincorporated County limits, and within certain city jurisdictions, the Department of Public Health (LADPH) requires an approved Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit to advance soil borings and groundwater monitoring wells. Additionally, permit fees apply for each sampling event from existing groundwater monitoring wells may apply.

Reasons to Drill

Typically, environmental soil borings and groundwater monitoring wells assist in researching contamination conditions and concentrations at specific locations. For example, subsurface investigations help to identify the source of an environmental release. Furthermore, deep soil borings aim to define the width and depth of a plume. Moreover, exploratory boreholes identify a site’s geology and soil characteristics. Groundwater monitoring wells are devices that aid in identifying hydro-geologic and environmental conditions, as well as the lateral and vertical extent of aquifer contamination. Using this information, geologists can also define contamination migration pathways. Groundwater monitoring wells are also usable for remediation purposes.

Exploration Projects with Well Permits & Drilling Permits

Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit is also necessary for “Exploration Hole” purposes. Typically, these boreholes explore subsurface and hydro-geological conditions at a property. For instance, any soil sampling boring, hydro-punch boring and Cone Penetrometer Test (CPT) will require oversight. Furthermore, any soil sampling boreholes with depths exceeding 10 feet into the vadose zone, and any borehole or CPT encountering groundwater will require oversight by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH).

Agency Approval & Oversight

Prior to commencing work, consultants must submit a work plan and well permit application to the Drinking Water Program within the LADPH. The investigative work may only commence after the County’s approval of the well permit and drilling permit.

Soil Vapor Probe Investigations & LA County Permitting

The vadose zone is a subsurface area represented by dry soil, above the groundwater table. Generally, soil gas probe boreholes only (within the vadose zone) do not require a LADPH Well Permit and Drilling Permit. In fact, if a CPT or soil boring does not extend beyond 10 feet below grade, it will also be exempt from a Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit.

When Borings Reach Groundwater

However, if any probe or borings extends into a groundwater zone during installation, a permit will become necessary. Similarly, if an investigation involves the installation of a groundwater monitoring well, groundwater production well, piezometer, injection well, extraction well, sparge well, CPT borehole into groundwater, or a HydroPunch temporary well, a Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit is mandatory. As with the soil boring permits, applicants must provide a comprehensive work plan and application to the Drinking Water Program. And the package must disclose the professional C57 contractors and geologists overseeing the job.

When Groundwater is Shallower than 10 Feet Below Grade

Although groundwater depths are variable in Los Angeles County, some areas have water tables shallower than 10 feet. In fact, some beach areas have reported first-encountered groundwater as shallow as 2 feet below grade. For instance, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Long Beach area are generally known to have shallow groundwater. As a result, a well permit and drilling permit will be required, even for boreholes less than 10 feet.

Well Permit & Drilling Permit Service Categories

Additional well-service categories that require a permit from the LADPH include irrigation, production, and geothermal heat exchange wells. And the Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit application also includes services such as well decommissioning, rehabilitation, and renovation of existing wells. Moreover, some procedures to service existing water supply wells are likely to require oversight. For example, yield evaluations, yield enhancement procedures, performance tests, in situ water treatment, and more.

Commercial Foodservice

In the same way, permit approval may be required for the periodic sampling of commercial foodservice facility water, for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certification.

Turnaround Times

The LADPH turnaround time for processing these permits is approximately 10 business days. The processing time commences upon receipt of the application and payment of fees. And work plan modifications or design amendments might be mandatory to achieve approval by the LADPH.

Professional Service

Properties undergoing soil or groundwater assessment within Los Angeles County are more than likely in need of a Well Permit and Drilling Permit, as well as a work plan prepared by a professional geologist. Contact Geo Forward for more information, or to determine if your project requires a Los Angeles County Well Permit and Drilling Permit.

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