Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS) Control Program

Plans and Policy

Overview of California's Nonpoint Source (NPS) Program

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCBs) have primary responsibility in California for the protection of water quality. This involves preventing and reducing water pollution in our rivers, streams, lakes, beaches, bays, and in our groundwater.

In 1990, Congress passed new sections of law to improve and expand the Coastal Zone Act. This additional legislation expanded the State and Regional Water Quality Control Boards' partnership for reducing polluted runoff to include the California Coastal Commission (CCC). This expansion strengthened the links between Federal and State coastal zone management and water quality programs. The additional legislation involved is called the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments or CZARA.

CZARA requires California and other states to ensure that management practices which reduce or prevent polluted runoff are actually put into use or implemented. To effectively reduce and prevent water pollution in California, we need to prevent polluted runoff from reaching our rivers, streams, lakes, beaches, bays, and our groundwater. The management measures which can prevent or reduce water pollution are defined in CZARA as: “economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint (that is, types of polluted runoff) sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollution reduction achievable through the application of best available nonpoint pollution (polluted runoff) control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods or other available alternatives.” More program information for coastal waters can be accessed through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Website.

In February 1994, California initiated a comprehensive review process to consider the new CZARA requirements and to update its existing statewide NPS management program. Updating the existing program is more efficient (cost saving) and effective for California's pollution prevention and reduction efforts than creating an entire new program to handle only coastal waters.

NPS Program Plan

The purpose of the NPS Program Plan is to improve the State’s ability to effectively manage NPS pollution and conform to the requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act and the Federal Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990.

  • 2020-2025 Nonpoint Source Implementation Plan - this document contains the approved implementation plan which identifies a set of targeted performance measures and describes NPS Program activities from July 2020 through June 2025.
  • US EPA Approval Letter has been received for the 2020-2025 Nonpoint Source Implementation Plan for the state fiscal years 2020 through 2025.

Below is the NPS Program plan that consists of a Fifteen Year Strategy with Three Five-Year Implementation Plans for state fiscal year 1998 through 2013. Click to expand for more information.

  • 1998-2013: Strategy with Implementation Plans
    • Fifteen Year Strategy
      • Volume I: Nonpoint Source Program Strategy and Implementation Plan (1998-2013) (January 2000)
      • Volume II: California Management Measures for Polluted Runoff (January 2000)
        • Appendix D: Memorandum from Cal/EPA and the Resources Agency
        • Appendix E: Memorandum of Understanding Between the Water Boards and CCC

    • Five-Year Implementation Plans

NPS Enforcement and Implementation Policy

The information provided in the NPS Enforcement and Implementation policy is designed to assist all responsible and/or interested parties in understanding how the State’s NPS water quality control requirements will be implemented and enforced. The parties involved include the SWRCB and the RWQCBs, federal, state and local agencies, individual dischargers, designated third-party representatives and any other interested public and private parties.

NPS Implementation and Enforcement Policy – this document explains how these Porter-Cologne act mandates authorities, delegated to the SWRCB and RWQCBs by the California Legislature, will be used to implement and enforce the NPS Program Plan.

Factsheet on the NPS Implementation and Enforcement Policy – this factsheet contains frequently asked questions and information on NPS enforcement.