Basin Planning

Basin Plan / Triennial Review / Amendments / Basin Planning Projects / Monitoring Programs / TMDLs / Bay-Delta

The Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay Basin (Basin Plan) is the Board's master water quality control planning document. It designates beneficial uses and water quality objectives for waters of the State, including surface waters and groundwater. It also includes programs of implementation to achieve water quality objectives. The Basin Plan has been adopted and approved by the State Water Resources Control Board, U.S. EPA, and the Office of Administrative Law where required.

Please address any questions regarding these pages or the Basin Plan Triennial Review to Richard Looker, Basin Planner, 510-622-2451,

Water Quality Control Plan (Basin Plan) for the San Francisco Bay Basin

The Basin Plan has been updated to reflect the Basin Plan amendments adopted up through March 7, 2023. We are providing downloadable, printable chapters in both PDF and in html (which may be read online or printed from the web; html pages also contain many links to related laws, Board orders, etc.). Chapter 7 of the Basin Plan contains all of the adopted Water Quality Attainment Strategies including TMDLs. This chapter is organized geographically by basin. You can see maps of all the basins in the region in Chapter 2

HTML version of the Basin Plan:

PDF files available for viewing and download

More Information on Beneficial Uses (from 2010 Basin Plan amendment)

Supporting documentation for each beneficial use added to Table 2-1 in 2012 (Basin Plan amendment R2-2010-0100). This document contains information on nearly 400 water bodies within the region. Search on a water body name, or download the document to see bookmarks.

Basin Plan Amendments

Periodically, the Water Board considers amendments to the Basin Plan. Each amendment is subject to an extensive public review process. At a public hearing, the Water Board may act to adopt the amendment. Adopted amendments are subject to approval by State Board. In most cases, the Office of Administrative Law and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) must approve the amendment as well.

Table of recent Basin Plan Amendments (that have all their approvals and have been incorporated into the Basin Plan) with links to supporting documentation.

Basin Planning Projects

The 2021 Triennial Review identified Climate Change and Aquatic Habitat Protection, Management, and Restoration as a high priority project. This project will add information to the Basin Plan on climate change and how it might affect the region’s waters; describe efforts made to support the long-term resilience of aquatic habitats in the region; and include a suite of questions and information that may be relevant when the Water Board permits dredge or fill activities in or near the region’s shorelines, especially climate adaptation projects. 

Water Board staff has been working with stakeholders and scientists including the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) to support regulatory management decisions through an improved understanding of the role nutrients play in water quality in the San Francisco Bay Estuary. must characterize current and future risks of eutrophication-driven degradation associated with human contributions of nutrients and how to manage this risk. The 2021 Triennial Review affirmed this as a high priority project. Please see the NNE project page for more information.

Establishing Tribal Beneficial Uses (TBUs) is high priority project identified through the 2021 Triennial Review. This project involves adding new Tribal Beneficial Use definitions to the Basin Plan, gathering information relevant to designating these uses, and amending or establishing water quality objectives and implementation programs to achieve these uses. Please visit the Tribal Beneficial Use project page to learn more.

Water Board staff has proposed a Basin Plan amendment to which would 1) correct errors in freshwater objective calculation formulas for selected metals to be consistent with the California Toxics Rule (CTR) or National Toxics Rule (NTR), from where these objectives originate; 2) clarify that additional applicable policies, regulations, and guidance aside from the State Implementation Policy (SIP) may be relied on when developing dilution credits for non-priority pollutants; 3) allow establishment of alternative cyanide dilution credits and mercury concentration triggers to reflect changes in wastewater treatment operations that implement water recycling projects, water conservation, or use new materials in industrial production processes; and 4) general cleanup to add clarifications, update obsolete information, and improve document formatting. Please visit the NPDES Corrections project page to learn more.

Triennial Review

Because the Basin Plan is the master planning document for water quality in the Bay Area, we regularly consider whether updates are needed to address new or changing water quality issues, and we involve stakeholders in this deliberation. This evaluation, called the Triennial Review, is required by, and follows the guidelines of, the federal Clean Water Act and the California Water Code.

We are initiating the 2024 Triennial Review by inviting stakeholders to fill out an online form to provide input on candidate Basin Planning projects. A document describing candidate Basin Planning projects and a presentation explaning the Triennial Review process are available for review (see list below).

The Water Board adopted a resolution approving 2021 Triennial Review of the Basin Plan and associated list of prioritized Basin Planning Projects. The final Staff Report (below) contains the final list of priority projects and explains the process used to rank and select the priority projects.

We began the 2021 Triennial Review with a June 21, 2021 public workshop. A document describing candidate Basin Planning projects is available for review (see list below). Here are the criteria that will be used by Staff to rank the projects.

Criterion Points
Water Board Mission (protect beneficial uses) 20
Climate Change Nexus 15
Public Support 10
External Resources Invested 10
Staff Resources Invested 10
Implement State Board Policy 5
U.S. EPA Priority 5
External Resources Likely Available 5
Geographic Scope 5
Input from Water Board Divisions 5

September 12 Board Hearing - The Water Board held a hearing to consider the resolution for the 2018 Basin Plan Triennial Review and list of prioritized projects.

2018 Triennial Review Workshop - We initiated the 2018 Triennial Review on April 6, 2018 by providing notice 45 days in advance of a May 21, 2018 public workshop. We will be providing a document for review on April 20, 2018, 30 days in advance of the workshop. We will accept written comments during a period starting on April 20 and ending on June 8.

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