Water quality control plans (North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Basin Plan) provide the basis for protecting water quality in California. Basin Plans are mandated by both the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and the State Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act (Porter-Cologne). Sections 13240-13247 of Porter-Cologne specify the required contents of a regional basin plan.
The Basin Plan is the Regional Water 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 (State Board), as well as by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) when required.
Each plan must contain water quality objectives, which in the judgment of the Regional Water Board will ensure the reasonable protection of beneficial uses and the prevention of nuisance, and a program of implementation for achieving those objectives, including a description of the nature of actions that are necessary to achieve the objectives, time schedules for the actions to be taken, and a description of surveillance to be undertaken to determine compliance with objectives.
The Basin Plan is used as a regulatory tool by the Regional Water Board's technical staff. Regional Water Board orders cite the Basin Plan's water quality standards and prohibitions applicable to a particular discharge. The Basin Plan is also used by other agencies in their permitting and resource management activities. It also serves as an educational and reference document for dischargers and members of the public.
NOTE: Several amendments to the Basin Plan were recently approved by the Office of Administrative Law. Changes due to those amendments are not yet reflected in the Basin Plan Documents at the link above. Please refer to the Amendments Approved list below for the most up-to-date language in the affected sections
Triennial Review of the Basin Plan
2014 Triennial Review
The Regional Water Board periodically reviews the Basin Plan and updates it as needed to address new or changing water quality issues. This review is conducted once every three years and is called the Triennial Review. The Regional Water Board last conducted its triennial review of the Basin Plan in 2014, including outreach to stakeholders, a public workshop and comment period, and concluding with a public hearing in March 2015 during which the Board adopted a list of planning priorities. A link to both the 2011 and 2014 Triennial Review of the Basin Plan can be found here.
In accordance with the 2011 and 2014 triennial reviews of the Basin Plan, the following is the list of planning priorities and the status of individual planning projects. Please click on the links for more information.
Amendments Approved by the Office of Administrative Law
- Temperature Policy Amendment and Temperature TMDL Action Plans for the Eel, Mattole and Navarro Rivers
- Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Implementation Program
- Water Quality Objectives Update Amendment
- Dissolved Oxygen Amendment
- Editorial Amendments to Basin Plan
- Policy in Support of Restoration in the North Coast Region
Amendments Under Development
- Eel River Seasonal Discharge Prohibition
- Designation of the Smith River and its Tributaries as an Outstanding National Resource Water (ONRW)
- Groundwater Protection Policy
- Flow Criteria/Objective for the Navarro River Watershed [webpage under development]
- Climate Change Policy [webpage under development]
Amendments on Hold
How to Access the Basin Plan
We encourage users to access the electronic version of the Basin Plan from the Internet, by clicking here.
The Basin Plan is also available in print form. Call 707-576-2220 or e-mail
to have a copy mailed to you (charges for copying and postage may apply).
Contact information for specific planning projects are posted on the project web pages. If you have general questions about the content of the Basin Plan or the amendment process, please contact the Regional Water Board's Program Manager, Alydda Mangelsdorf, at 707-576-6735 or
We encourage those interested in basin planning issues to subscribe to the Basin Planning email list here.
- Basin Plan Start
- Basin Plan Documents
- Dissolved Oxygen Amendment
- Editorial Amendments
to Basin Plan
- Groundwater Protection
- Mixing Zone Policy
- OWTS Policy
- Restoration Policy
- Smith River ONRW Designation
- Stream and Wetlands System Protection Policy
- Temperature Amendment
- Triennial Review
- Water Quality Objectives
(Page last updated 10/16/17)
Water is a precious resource in California, and maintaining its quality is of utmost importance to safeguard the health of the public and the environment.