Waste Discharge Requirements

Permit Assistance

If your activities involve discharges such as those to land, groundwater, or from diffused sources, you must file a complete Report of Waste Discharge with the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) to obtain Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs).

Note: For specified situations, some permits may be waived and some discharge activities can be handled through enrollment in an existing general permit.

What Form Do I Need?

How Do I Get Started?

The process begins when you request an application from the appropriate RWQCB. You then must file this application. You will be asked to describe the wastes involved, the setting for the discharge, and the method of treatment or containment.

Once the application is completed and filed, the RWQCB staff will draft a permit. It then must go to the RWQCB to be adopted.

The steps to obtain Waste Discharge Requirements are as follows:

    1. File the Report of Waste Discharge form with the necessary supplemental information with the RWQCB at least 120 days before beginning to discharge waste.
    2. RWQCB staff reviews the application for completeness and may request additional information.
    3. Once the application is complete, staff determines whether to propose adoption of the WDRs, prohibit the discharge, or waive the WDRs.
    4. If WDRs are proposed, staff prepares draft WDRs and distributes them to persons and public agencies with known interest in the project for a minimum 30 day comment period. Staff may modify the proposed WDRs based upon comments received from the discharger and interested parties.
    5. The RWQCB holds a public hearing with at least a 30 day public notification. If WDRs are uncontested, the notice requirement is only 10 days. The RWQCB may adopt the proposed WDRs or modify and adopt them at the public hearing by majority vote.

The entire process for developing and adopting the requirements normally takes about three months.

What Information is Needed?

An applicant discharger must provide the following information on the Report of Waste Discharge:

  • Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the owner(s) of the facility, the owner’s authorized agent, and any lessee(s) of the facility;
  • Description of the facility or activity, including whether the applicant proposes to increase or change an existing discharge or create a new one;
  • Location of the operation by section, township, and range with a USGS 7.5 minute series topographic map attached;
  • Description of the discharge by type, quality, quantity, interval, and method of discharge;
  • Source of water that contributes to or transports the waste;
  • Water flow and location map, identifying all discharge points; and
  • Statement noting whether an environmental document has been or must be prepared and submitted in a timely manner.

If you need help determining any of this information, you can call a RWQCB contact for assistance.

Bill of Rights for Environmental Permit Applicants

The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) endorses the following precepts that form the basis of a permit applicant’s “Bill of Rights”

    1. Permit applicants have the right to assistance in understanding regulatory and permit requirements. All Cal/EPA programs maintain an Ombudsman to work directly with applicants. Permit Assistance Centers located throughout California have permit specialists from all the State, regional, and local agencies to identify permit requirements and assist in permit processing.
    2. Permit applicants have the right to know the projected fees for review of applications, how any costs will be determined and billed, and procedures for resolving any disputes over fee billings.
    3. Permit applicants have the right of access to complete and clearly written guidance documents that explain the regulatory requirements. Agencies must publish a list of all information required in a permit application and of criteria used to determine whether the submitted information is adequate.
    4. Permit applicants have the right of timely completeness determinations for their applications. In general, agency notify the applicants within 30 days of any deficiencies or determine that the application is complete. California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and public hearing requests may require additional information.
    5. Permit applicants have the right to know exactly how their application are deficient and what further information is needed to make their applications complete. Pursuant to California Government Code Section 65944, after an application is accepted as complete an agency may not request any new or additional information that was not specified in the original application.
    6. Permit applicants have the right of a timely decision on their permit application. The agencies are required to establish time limits for permit reviews.
    7. Permit applicants have the right to appeal permit review time limits by statute or administratively that have been violated without good cause. For state environmental agencies, appeals are made directly to the Cal/EPA Secretary or to a specific board. For local environmental agencies, appeals are generally made to the local governing board or, under certain circumstances to Cal/EPA. Through this appeal applicants may obtain a set date for a decision on their permit and in some cases a refund of all application fees (ask boards and departments for details).
    8. Permit applicants have the right to work with a single lead agency where multiple environmental approvals are needed. For multiple permits, all agency actions can be consolidated under a lead agency. For site remediation, an applicable laws can be administered through a single lead agency.
    9. Permit applicants have the right to know who will be reviewing their application and the time required to complete the full review process.

Questions or Comments about Waste Discharge Requirements?