The Department of Conservation's Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM, formerly DOGGR), under provisions of the Public Resources Code and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, regulates all geothermal wells drilled on private and state lands. California geothermal injection wells are considered federal Class V injection wells, and the state injection program includes permitting, inspection, enforcement, mechanical integrity testing, sealing and closing (plugging and abandonment) oversight, data management, and public outreach.
All drilling, rework, and plugging and abandonment operations on geothermal wells require a permit. CalGEM engineers evaluate the geologic and engineering information proposed in the permit. The regional water quality control board receives a copy of the proposal for comment. CalGEM also solicits public comments and may hold a public hearing. An approved permit will include conditions, such as the injection zones, maximum injection pressures, and future testing and monitoring requirements.
CalGEM engineers monitor all injection wells to make sure they are operating properly. They review operational data and witness tests to ensure well casing soundness. In addition, surface pipes at most well sites are inspected every year.