Basin Plan


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

The federal Clean Water Act (Section 303 (c)) and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act require the Basin Plan to be reviewed and updated periodically (at a minimum every three years). The Regional Board review process includes identification of issues that may enhance water quality protection and presentation of a priority list of issues at a public hearing. The priority list of issues, referred to as the Triennial Review Priority List, includes:

2017 Triennial Review

The tentative schedule is currently planned as follows:  

A public workshop will be held in Santa Rosa on May 17, 2018. A public hearing will be held in Santa Rosa on July 11, 2018. Additional details including the public comment period will be posted in the near future.

2014 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.

Basin Plan Amendment Planning Priorities

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

Amendments 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).

Mailing List

We encourage those interested in basin planning issues to subscribe to the Basin Planning email list here.

Contact Us

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:

Alydda Mangelsdorf, Regional Water Board's Program Manager

  (Page last updated 12/27/17)