Welcome to the State Water Resources Control Board - North Coast california environmental protection agency

NonPoint Source Program

For information pertaining to the Nonpoint Source Program in the North Coast
Region, please contact Stephen Bargsten, Nonpoint Source/401 Certification
Unit Senior, at 707-576-2653 or Stephen.Bargsten@waterboards.ca.gov

What is Nonpoint Source Pollution?

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, also known as polluted runoff, is the leading
cause of water quality impairments in California. Nonpoint sources, are major
contributors of pollution to impacted streams, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, marine
waters, harbors, bays, and ground water basins. Unlike pollution from distinct,
identifiable sources, NPS pollution comes from many diffuse sources. It is
caused by rainfall, snowmelt, or irrigation water that moves over and through the
ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-
made pollutants and deposits them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, ground water,
and other inland and coastal waters. Common sources of NPS pollution include
runoff from agricultural activities, including feedlots, grazing and dairies; runoff
from urban areas; and erosion from timber harvesting, construction sites, and

Nonpoint Source Programs

The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act requires anyone discharging or
proposing to discharge waste that could affect the quality of waters of the state to
be permitted for such a discharge by the Regional Water Boards. The North
Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (North Coast Regional Water
Board) has several programs to address and regulate nonpoint source
discharges and pollution, as follows:

The development and expansion of North Coast Regional Water Board NPS
Programs are guided by the Nonpoint Source Program workplan. The workplan
is updated every five years to reflect current priorities for Nonpoint Source

Water Quality Compliance Program for Cow Dairies and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (Dairy Program)

The North Coast Regional Water Board adopted the Dairy Program on January
19, 2012. It is currently being implemented on approximately 126 dairies,
housing about 50,000 cows in the North Coast Region. The Dairy Program
covers the management of process water, manure, and other organic materials
at dairy operations including the application of such materials to cropland.

Water Quality Compliance Program for the Five Counties Salmonid Conservation Program (5C Road Management Waiver)

The North Coast Regional Water Board adopted the 5C Road Management
Waiver on May 2, 2013. The 5C Road Management Waiver provides permit
coverage for county road maintenance and associated project activities done as
part of the Five Counties Salmonid Conservation Program. The 5C Road
Management Waiver can also provide permit coverage for road management
projects on non-county roads. The 5C Road Management Waiver is available for
those portions of Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Siskiyou and Trinity counties
located in the North Coast Region.

Timber Operations Program on Private Lands

The North Coast Regional Water Board has been active in regulating discharges
from logging and associated activities since 1972. Regulating discharges from
timber operations is consistent with the abundance of timber and water resources
in the North Coast Region. Staff participate in the CalFire multi-agency Review
Team process, including inspections of Timber Harvest Plans and Non-industrial
Timber Management Plans on privately owned lands. The North Coast Regional
Water Quality Control Board has adopted the following types of permits for timber
operations in the North Coast Region: 1) General Waste Discharge
Requirements (WDRs), 2) Waivers, 3) Ownership-wide WDRs, and 4)
Watershed-wide permits.

U.S. Forest Service Nonpoint Source Program

The North Coast Regional Water Board has adopted a Waiver to provide permit
coverage for timber operations and other nonpoint source discharges, including
vegetation manipulation, grazing, roads, recreation, restoration, and fire
suppression on US Forest Service and other federal lands. Staff review and
inspect proposed projects for compliance with Waiver requirements.

Water Quality Certification Program

This program regulates discharges of fill and dredged material under Section 401
of the federal Clean Water Act and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act.

This program protects all waters in its regulatory scope, but has special
responsibility for wetlands, riparian areas, and headwaters because these
waterbodies have high resource value, are vulnerable to filling, and are not
systematically protected by other programs. We are involved with protection of
special-status species and regulation of hydromodification impacts. The Program
encourages basin-level analysis and protection.

Anyone proposing to conduct a project that requires a federal permit or involves
dredge or fill activities that may result in a discharge to U.S. surface waters
and/or "Waters of the State" is required to obtain a Clean Water Act (CWA)
Section 401 Water Quality Certification and/or Waste Discharge Requirements
(Dredge/Fill Projects) from the North Coast Regional Water Board, verifying that
the project activities will comply with state water quality standards.
Section 401 of the CWA grants each state the right to ensure that the State's
interests are protected on any federally permitted activity occurring in or adjacent
to Waters of the State. In California, the Regional Water Quality Control Boards
(Regional Water Boards) are the agencies mandated to ensure protection of the
State's waters.

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation

Many of the streams in the North Coast Region are listed as impaired under
Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act. Most of these impairments, such
as excess sediment and high water temperatures, are from nonpoint source
pollution. Placement on the 303(d) list triggers an assessment that can lead to
the development of a TMDL for the waterbody and associated pollutant/stressor
on the list. Literally, the "total maximum daily load" is the amount of a certain
pollutant that a specific water body or watershed can assimilate and still be safe
for people, fish, and wildlife. The TMDL describes the causes of the impairment
and outlines a plan for achieving water quality standards in the impaired water
body using the regulatory authorities administered by the Water Boards.

There are several ways to implement the actions necessary to meet a TMDL.
These include:

  1. Regulatory action(s) of the Regional Water Board, such as a permit,
    waiver, or enforcement order.
  2. Regulatory action(s) of another state, federal, or local agency.
  3. Amendments of the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Region
    (the Basin Plan), in the form of an Action Plan, which describes the steps
    that are necessary to meet the TMDL.
  4. Non-regulatory action(s), such as third party agreements and self-directed
    pollutant control.

Agricultural Lands Discharge Program

The Regional Water Board is in various stages of developing and implementing a
Program to address discharges from agricultural lands in the North Coast
Region, with focused efforts on discharges from vineyards, orchards, lily bulbs,
marijuana, dairies, grazing, and agriculture in the Scott River, Shasta River, Tule
Lake, and Butte Valley watersheds. Individual permitting efforts to address
specific water quality concerns from nurseries and other agricultural discharges
are also part of the Program. The Agricultural Lands Discharge Program
addresses water quality impacts associated with agricultural lands in the Region.
Agricultural lands have the potential to contribute to water quality problems
through the over-application of fertilizers and pesticides, human-caused erosion
of sediment, pollutants in tailwater return flows, and the removal and suppression
of riparian vegetation.

Watershed Stewardship Approach

The North Coast Regional Water Board is currently developing a Watershed
Stewardship Approach which will result in enhanced capabilities for the Regional
Water Board to develop comprehensive and collaborative water quality
improvement measures that support all program areas and increase the level of
coordination with other agencies, entities, and programs. The initiative is based
on defined watershed management areas and is intended to promote
collaboration among participants. This approach is already being utilized in
varying degrees within the Klamath, Shasta, and Garcia River watersheds.

The webpage for the Watershed Stewardship Approach is currently under

Additional Links:

Updated January 15, 2014