National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Wastewater

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program is a federal program, which has been delegated to the State of California for implementation. NPDES permits, also referred to as Waste Discharge Requirements, are issued to regulate the discharge of municipal wastewater or industrial process, cleaning, or cooling, wastewaters, commercial wastewater, treated groundwater from cleanup projects, or other wastes to surface waters only. If the waste discharge consists only of non-process storm water, it may be regulated under the NPDES Storm Water program. For discharges of waste to land, see the WDRs for Wastewater Program Page

All municipalities within the North Coast Region which discharge wastewater to surface waters are currently regulated by NPDES permits issued by the Regional Water Board. Industrial, commercial, cleanup or other operations which discharge wastes directly into municipal, or other publicly owned wastewater collection systems, are not required to obtain a NPDES permit from the Regional Water Board, but must comply with waste discharge requirements issued by the appropriate public entity.

    General NPDES Permits

    The Water Boards develop and issue general permits to cover multiple facilities within a specific category. The use of general permits allows the Water Boards to allocate resources in a more efficient manner and provide timely permit coverage for large numbers of facilities in the same category. In addition, the use of a general permit ensures consistency of permit conditions for similar facilities. According to 40 CFR section 122.28, general permits may be written to cover categories of point sources having common elements, such as:

    • Storm water point sources ("Storm Water" is a separate program at the State Water Board)
    • Facilities that involve the same or substantially similar types of operations
    • Facilities that discharge the same types of wastewater
    • Facilities that require the same effluent limitations or operating conditions
    • Facilities that require the same monitoring where tiered conditions may be used for minor differences within class (e.g., size or seasonal activity)
    • Facilities that are more appropriately regulated by a general permit

    Below is list of NPDES Wastewater General Permits in the North Coast Region and applicable State Water Board General Permits. It also provides a link to the program page or permit itself.

    • Each general permit typically includes the following information:
    • How to apply for coverage under a general permit - see the" Notice of Intent" (NOI) form
    • How to request rescission from coverage - see the "Notice of Termination" (NOT) form
    • How to transfer ownership - some permits are not transferable so please read the permit carefully

    North Coast Regional Water Board General NPDES Permits
    Low Threat Discharges to Surface Waters
    The purpose of the General Order for Low Threat Discharges to Surface Waters in the North Coast Region is to regulate discharges from a discrete point source to surface waters of the North Coast Region.  A low threat discharge is a short-term and/or minimized volume discharge from a definable project that results in a point source discharge to surface waters and is managed in a manner that does not threaten the quality or beneficial uses of water without additional dilution.

    Highly Treated Groundwater

    General Order for Discharges of Highly Treated Groundwater to Surface Water Following Extraction and Treatment of Groundwater Polluted with Petroleum Hydrocarbons and Volatile Organic Compounds Extraction and treatment of groundwater impacted by chemical pollutants as a result of an unauthorized release is a remedial option used to reduce or eliminate petroleum hydrocarbons or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from groundwater. This technology is also implemented for plume control by creating hydraulic control and reducing unwanted migration of pollution in groundwater.  This General Order is intended to authorize similar discharges from groundwater treatment facilities at sites that have been impacted by petroleum related compounds and other volatile organic compounds associated with an unauthorized release of pollutants to groundwater.

    State Water Board General NPDES Orders





































    How do I apply for an NPDES wastewater permit?

    An NPDES permit is issued under both state and federal laws. Therefore, dischargers are required to complete several permit applications forms. They are also required to submit a fee with the application forms.

    State Application Form
    A Report of Waste Discharge (ROWD) pursuant to Section 13260 of the California Water Code is required for all new discharges. Section 13260 states that any person 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 an ROWD containing information that may be required by the specific Water Boards.
    The ROWD is to be used to start the application process for NPDES permits issued by the Water Boards except for General NPDES permits that use a Notice of Intent to comply or that specify the use of an alternative application form. See General NPDES Orders above)

    The ROWD contains:

    Additional Information Requirements
    In addition to Form 200, the discharger must submit a technical report that thoroughly characterizes the discharge and is signed and certified by a registered civil engineer. Please contact Water Board staff for a list of information to include in the technical report.

    Permit Fees All discharges regulated under NPDES permits must pay a fee that includes a surcharge. Dischargers applying for reissuance (renewal) of an existing NPDES permit will be billed through the fee billing system and SHOULD NOT submit the fee with their ROWD. New dischargers must pay the first permit fee along with their application. However, they SHOULD NOT pay their first fee until requested to do so by Water Board staff who will notify them of the fee amount based on an evaluation of their proposed discharge.

    Federal Application Forms
    Persons seeking to obtain NPDES permits will need to apply to the Regional Water Board using one or more of the following federal NPDES permit application forms:

    • General information completed in conjunction with Forms 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, Short Form A and Standard Form A. Form 1
    • Publicly-Owned Treatment Works serving 10,000 persons or less Form 2A
    • Concentrated animal feeding operations and aquatic animal production facilities, new applications or renewals. Form 2B
    • Existing manufacturing, commercial, mining, and silvicultural operations (including federal facilities). Form 2C
    • New manufacturing, mining, commercial and silvicultural operations. Form 2D
    • New applications or renewals of non-manufacturing facilities, trailer parks, service stations, laundromats, commercial facilities, etc. Form 2E
    • Storm water discharges associated with industrial activity. Form 2F
    • Sewage sludge use. Form 2S

    Other types of discharges, such as those with the potential to affect groundwater or from diffused sources (e.g., erosion from soil disturbance or waste discharges to land) are handled by filing a Report of Waste Discharge.

    Looking for more information about permitting other types of discharges? See Do I Need a Permit? This series links will help you determine whether you need a permit, describes general categories of regulated activities, provides a summary and links to specific program information, and provides links to the appropriate forms and most common permit categories.


Heaven Moore, Senior Water Resources Control Engineer,
NPDES Unit Supervisor,
(707) 576-2753,

Program Resources

California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS)
Monitoring & Reporting

  • DMRs - Discharge Monitoring Reports Page
  • eSMRs - Electronic Self-Monitoring Reports Page

Do I need a Permit?
Recycled Water
Water Quality Goals
WDRs for Wastewater

Resources and Other Documents

  (Page last updated 8/29/23)