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Permits We Issue


The Water Board is a State agency with a regional jurisdiction covering most of the Bay Area counties. Our job is to protect and improve the quality of the natural water resources in our region. These resources include San Francisco and Tomales Bays, the Ocean, streams that flow into the Bays and Ocean (west of Antioch), and groundwater throughout the region (Regional Map). We do this by regulating discharges to the waters and by requiring cleanups of unplanned or illegal discharges. The regulating of discharges is done through a variety of permits, which are described below. For information on cleanup activities go to Cleanups and Brownfields.

Permits issued by the Water Board put restrictions on discharges of wastes, such as concentrations of certain pollutants, or the amount of flow. Permits can also require dischargers to take certain kinds of actions; for example, installing certain technologies to treat or contain wastes, or implementing practices to manage stormwater. Described below are the kinds of actions regulated by this Board (in parentheses is the name of the particular type of permit used). More information on each type of permit can be found by following the links.




Most permits are adopted by the Water Board in public hearings after opportunities for public comment. More information on upcoming permit actions is available at Tentative Orders for Public Comment. Exceptions to this public process include adding dischargers to general permits, after the general permits have been adopted in a public process. Also, small 401 WQC are issued administratively.

Kinds of activities that the Water Board does not regulate include drinking water quality (done by Department of Public Health), hazardous waste treatment and storage facilities (done by Department of Toxic Substances Control), industrial pretreatment requirements (done by local sewer authorities), underground storage tanks and septic tanks (done by local agencies).