National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program

The Colorado River Basin Region (Regional Water Board) developed this web page to provide information on the State and Regional Water Board National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program.

NPDES Program Overview

As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. In most cases, the NPDES permit program is administered by authorized states. Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our Nation's water quality.

California has been authorized to implement the NPDES program and each Regional Water Board implements the NPDES program to regulate point source discharge of wastewater to surface waters of the Region so that the highest quality and beneficial uses of these waters are protected and enhances. Regulation is by issuance of NPDES permits which are updated every five years. Each permit contains effluent limitations which ensure the protection of the receiving waters.

NPDES Individual Permit Documents

There are two types of NPDES permits, Individual or General. The following are hyperlinks for permit assistance and forms for applying for an NPDES Individual permit. California Form 200 and appropriate NPDES permit application forms are required to be submitted to the Regional Water Board to apply for an Individual NPDES permit. Additional information and a form is provided to reporting priority pollutants and if necessary, an Anti-degradation Analysis.

Section 13260 states that persons discharging or proposing to discharge waste that could affect the quality of the waters of the State, other than into a community sewer system, shall file a ROWD containing information which may be required by the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). Form 200 is used to start the application process.

Additional information on NPDES permit process.

Discharges from a new or an existing facility that will undergo significant expansion within the next 5 years shall be required to submit an Anti-degradation analysis report to the Regional Water Board's Executive Officer for review and approval. The Anti-degradation analysis report shall be developed in accordance with the State Anti-degradation Policy (Resolution No. 68-16) and the Federal Anti-degradation Policy (40 CFR 131.12). The report shall consider any potential impacts the discharge may have on the receiving water quality and the receiving water bodies designated beneficial uses, as defined in the Regional Water Board's Basin Plan.

NPDES General Permit Documents

A general permit is a NPDES permit that covers multiple facilities that have similar discharges and are located in a specific geographic area. A general permit applies the same or similar conditions to all dischargers covered under the general permit. Using a general permit to cover numerous facilities reduces paperwork for permitting authorities and permittees, and ensures consistency of permit conditions for similar facilities.

Once a general permit has been issued, a facility wishing to be covered under the permit shall submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the State or Regional Water Board. A general permit that expires before it is reissued may be administratively continued. In this situation all facilities covered under the permit maintain coverage until the permit is reissued and a new NOI is required. No new coverage may be obtained under the general permit until the permit is reissued.

The State or Regional Water Board may require the facility to submit an individual permit application and receive an individual NPDES permit if it determines that coverage under the general permit is inappropriate. Like individual NPDES permits, general permits have a term that does not exceed 5 years.

The State and Regional Water Board has several NPDES General Permits, the following information provides you to links to these General Orders specific to this Region:

NPDES Resources (USEPA)

The following information provides links to resources and guidance document for the NPDES Program from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

  • Water Quality and Technology-Based Permitting
    Water Quality and Technology-Based approaches to developing limits in NDPES permits are described.
  • Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards
    Effluent limitations guidelines and standards are established by EPA for different non-municipal (i.e., industrial) categories. These guidelines are developed based on the degree of pollutant reduction attainable by an industrial category through the application of pollutant control technologies.
  • Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes
    Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes are four digit numerical codes assigned by the U.S. government to business establishments to identify the primary business of the establishment.
  • Secondary Treatment Standards
    Describes the technology-based requirements for municipal sewage treatment facilities.
  • Overview of Water Quality Standards-to-Permits Process
    An overview of the standards-to-permit process is described.
  • National Recommended Water Quality Criteria
    EPA's compilation of national recommended water quality criteria is presented as a summary table containing recommended water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life and human health in surface water for approximately 150 pollutants. These criteria are published pursuant to Section 304(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and provide guidance for states and tribes to use in adopting water quality standards.

NPDES Resources (State and Regional Water Boards)

  • State Water Board NPDES Program Web Page
    The State Water Board provides general information and resources on the NPDES program.
  • Compilation of Water Quality Goals
    This searchable database contains an extensive compendium of numeric water quality thresholds from the literature for over 860 chemical constituents and water quality parameters.
  • Region Water Board Water Quality Control Plan (Basin Plan)
    This Basin Plan is intended to provide definitive guidelines, and give direction to the full scope of Regional Board activities that serve to optimize the beneficial uses of the state waters within the Colorado River Basin Region of California by preserving and protecting the quality of these waters.
  • Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and 303(d) List of Impaired Water Bodies
    The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Unit in the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Colorado River Basin Region (Regional Water Board 7 or Region 7) manages the regional TMDL Program. The TMDL Program updates Clean Water Act (CWA), Section 303(d) List of impaired surface waters in need of TMDLs, and develops and implements priority TMDLs throughout the Region.
  • Regional Water Board Pretreatment Program Web Page
    The Colorado River Basin Region (Regional Water Board) developed this web page to provide information on the Federal, State and Regional Water Board Pretreatment Program.
  • Regional Water Board CAFO Program Web Page
    The Colorado River Basin Region (Regional Water Board) developed this web page to provide information on the State and Regional Water Board CAFO Programs and Regional Water Board General CAFO Permit.
  • Regional Water Board Storm Water Program Web Page
    The Colorado River Basin Region (Regional Water Board) developed this web page to provide information on the State Board Storm Water Programs (Construction, Industrial and Municipal) and Regional Board permits.

Permit Writers' Resources

The following are hyperlinks to assist permit writers in development of NPDES Individual and General Permits.

  • NPDES Permit Program Basics
    This section of this website contains basic information on the major features and elements of the NPDES permit program.
  • NPDES Permit Writers’ Manual
    The NPDES Permit Writers' Manual (EPA-833-K-10-001) provides a comprehensive overview of the framework of the NPDES program and serves as one of the principal training tools to help permit writers develop legally defensible and enforceable NPDES permits.
  • Web-based NPDES Permit Writers Training
    The NPDES Permit Writer's Course is a five-day course covering the key elements of NPDES Permit development. The course is taught by experienced EPA staff and contractors and has been one of EPA's most successful courses over the past decade.
  • 40 Code of Federal Regulations Part 136 (40CFR136)
    40 CFR 136 provides guidelines establishing test procedures for the analysis of pollutants.

Other Helpful Links for NPDES Program

The following information provides links to Office of Operator Certification, State of California Department of Public Health for Certified Laboratories and State and Federal Statutes and Regulations.

  • Office of Operator Certification
    The State Water Board established the Office of Operator Certification in the Division of Financial Assistance to ensure that operators of wastewater treatment facilities in the State meet the minimum level of competence; thereby, protecting the public health and the environment.
  • California Department of Public Health Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program
    ELAP provides evaluation and accreditation of environmental testing laboratories to ensure the quality of analytical data used for regulatory purposes to meet the requirements of the State's drinking water, wastewater, shellfish, food, and hazardous waste programs. The State agencies which monitor the environment use the analytical data from these accredited laboratories. The ELAP-accredited laboratories have demonstrated capability to analyze environmental samples using approved methods.
  • Clean Water Act
    The 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (known as the Clean Water Act or CWA) provide the statutory basis for the NPDES permit program and the basic structure for regulating the discharge of pollutants from point sources to waters of the United States.
  • NPDES Regulations
    The NPDES permitting program, including specific permit requirements, is the result of enactment of laws by Congress and development and implementation of federal regulations based on the authorities vested to EPA through those laws. Any new or modified regulations must go through a rulemaking process that includes a proposal, public comment, and then culminating with a final rule that must then be implemented and enforced. The links below list the laws, regulations, proposed and final rules, and other public notices applicable to this program.
  • State Water Board Laws and Regulations
    The State Water Board maintains compilations of various laws relevant to different areas of the water boards’ responsibilities; you should consult the official version of the California Code or the United States Code if in doubt.
  • Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act
    Excerpts of California Water Code, Division 7 (Water Quality)
  • Water Board Training Academy
    The primary mission of the Academy is to provide statewide training and related services that promote staff, program, and organizational development in support of the Boards' mission.

Public Reports on NPDES Permits

The following links provide public information through the State Water Board Databases.

Current Topics


The following information provides links to resources that are relevant to cyanide in domestic wastewater including the documents prepared for or on behalf of United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), pertinent sections of Code of Federal Regulations, and other studies and reports.

Questions or Comments?

State Water Board Contact Information:
General Inquires: Afrooz Farsimadan
Phone number: (916)-341-5544
Fax: (916) 341-5463

Questions or Comments on State NPDES Programs

State Water Fee Branch Questions

Regional Water Board Contact Information:
For Individual Permits
Email Jose Valle de Leon or phone (760) 776-8940

For General Permits
Email Jose Figueroa-Acevedo or phone (760) 352-1464

For Fee and Invoice Related Questions
Email Maribel Jernegan or phone (760) 776-8941

Additional Regional Water Board Contact Information