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.
25 Most Recent OrdersAll Adopted Orders may be found on the North Coast Adopted Orders Search Page
- 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
- 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
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:
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.
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 GroundwaterGeneral 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
PESTICIDE-AQUATIC ANIMAL INVASIVE SPECIES (STATEWIDE)
PESTICIDE-SPRAY APPLICATION (STATEWIDE)
PESTICIDE-VECTOR CONTROL (STATEWIDE)
PESTICIDE-WEED CONTROL (STATEWIDE)
UTILITY VAULTS (STATEWIDE)
DRINKING WATER SYSTEM DISCHARGES (STATEWIDE)
- Application/General Information Form for WDRs and NPDES Permits - Form 200 (PDF)
- Questions & Answers (MS Word)
- 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
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)
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:
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.
- California Water Code: Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act Excerpts of California Water Code, Division 7 (Water Quality)
- California Code of Regulations The entire California Code of Regulations maintained by the California Office of Administrative Law.
- Compliance Schedules for NPDES Permits – State Water Board Resolution No. 2008-0025
- Once-Through Cooling Program / Cooling Water Intake Structures: The Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Water for Power Plant Cooling establishes technology-based standards to implement federal Clean Water Act section 316(b) and reduce the harmful effects associated with cooling water intake structures for power generating facilities on marine and estuarine life.
- Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Water Quality Control Policy for Siting, Design, Operation, and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS Policy). To accomplish this purpose, the OWTS Policy establishes a statewide, risk-based, tiered approach for the regulation and management of OWTS installations and replacements and sets the level of performance and protection expected from OWTS. For additional information see the OWTS Policy Program Page.
- Pretreatment Program The General Pretreatment Regulations at 40 CFR 403.1 et seq. establish the responsibilities of government agencies, industries, and the public to implement pretreatment standards to control industrial pollutants that may pass through or interfere with publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) or contaminate sewage sludge.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 68-16 Commonly known as the State’s Anti-degradation Policy the goal of this policy is to maintain high quality waters. Whenever the existing water quality is better than the established water quality objectives, such existing quality shall be maintained.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 88-63, established that all waters are considered suitable, or potentially suitable, for municipal or domestic supply (MUN) and should be designated for this use, with certain exceptions.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 92-49: Policies and procedures for investigation, cleanup, and abatement of discharges under water code section 13304.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 2016-0010: Adopting the Human Right to Water as a Core Value and Directing Its Implementation in Water Board Programs and Activities.
- Recycled Water Policy. The Recycled Water Policy Program promotes the use of recycled water to achieve sustainable local water supplies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Recycled Water Policy recognizes the fact that some groundwater basins in the state contain salts and nutrients that exceed or threaten to exceed water quality objectives in the applicable Basin Plans or cause degradation of high quality waters.
- Thermal Plan / Water Quality Control Plan for Control of Temperature in the Coastal and Interstate Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries.
- Toxic Standards for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California (State Implementation Policy) The goal of this Policy is to establish a standardized approach for permitting discharges of toxic pollutants to non-ocean surface waters in a manner that promotes statewide consistency. As such, this Policy is a tool to be used in conjunction with watershed management approaches and, where appropriate, the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) to ensure achievement of water quality standards.
- Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Region (Basin Plan) The Basin Plan is the Regional Water Board's master water quality control planning document Basin Plans contain water quality objectives, which will ensure the reasonable protection of beneficial uses and the prevention of nuisance, and a program of implementation for achieving those objectives.
- Basin Plan - Point Source Discharge Prohibition (Chapter 4 – Implementation Plans): Prohibits the discharge of waste to surface waters in the North Coast with specific seasonal exceptions in the Eel River, Mad River, and Russian River watersheds.
- Basin Plan – Compliance with Objectives (Chapter 3 – Water Quality Objectives): Summarizes the process for determining numeric limitations and cleanup levels in various water quality control programs.
- Water Quality Control Policy Enclosed Bays and Estuaries – Resolution 74-73 and 95-84
- Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Water, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California
- Part 1: Trash Provisions
- Part 2: Tribal and Subsistence Fishing Beneficial Uses and Mercury Provisions
- Water Quality Control Plan for Enclosed Bays and Estuaries
- Water Quality Enforcement Policy (2017)
- Water Quality Control Plan for Ocean Waters of California (Ocean Plan)
Regulations and Policies
Heaven Moore, Senior Water Resources Control Engineer,
NPDES Unit Supervisor,
Resources and Other Documents
(Page last updated 8/29/23)
Water is a precious resource in California, and maintaining its quality is of utmost importance to safeguard the health of the public and the environment.