Water Quality Compliance Program for Dairies & Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

Dairy Program

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s (Regional Water Board) Dairy Program currently regulates waste discharge from dairies under two orders:

  1. General Waste Discharge Requirements for Existing Cow Dairies in the North Coast Region, Order No. R1-2012-0002 (GWDR), and
  2. Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Existing Cow Dairies in the North Coast Region, Order R1-2012-0003 (Waiver).  In December 2016, the Waiver was renewed by Order R1-2016-0045.

These permits apply to existing dairies. New or expanding cow dairies since 2012 must apply for individual permits.

Quick Links

2019 Dairy Program Update

The Regional Water Board has been regulating all cow dairies in the North Coast region since 2012.  In 2017, the Regional Water Board began to consider revisions to the Dairy Program.  These revisions are reflected in Draft Order No. R1-2019-0001, General Waste Discharge Requirements for Dairies in the North Coast Region (Draft GWDR).  The Draft GWDR is proposed to replace the existing (2012) program.

A Regional Water Board hearing was held on April 18, 2019, to consider adoption of a Proposed Order and Change Sheet. At the close of the hearing, the Board decided to postpone a decision on the Proposed Order to allow for additional stakeholder review and input on proposed modifications made since November 1, 2018. The Board directed staff to recirculate the Order incorporating the revisions for an additional 30-day public review. Please visit the April 2019 board agenda page for more information on that hearing.


The new Draft Order R1-2019-0001 dated May 14, 2019, now includes revisions made to the November 1, 2018 draft Order as reflected in the April 4, 2019 Proposed Order as well as subsequent revisions included in the Change Sheet. All revisions made to the November 1, 2018 draft Order are shown in redline/strikeout.

The new Draft Order package was distributed for 30-day public review starting May 14, 2019 and ending at 5:00 PM on June 14, 2019.  The Regional Water Board only accepted comments on revisions made to the November 1, 2018 draft Order as shown in redline/strikeout.  Public comments received by the June 14, 2019 deadline can be viewed below:

Please scroll down to “Public Notices” below to review up-to-date information on current document review and next board hearing information.

2018 Dairy Program Information

The Draft GWDR was circulated for public review and comment beginning on November 1, 2018 and extending through January 3, 2019. After the Regional Water Board received public input, the Draft GWDR was revised and a Proposed Order was finalized for consideration for board adoption on April 18, 2019, or as announced in the Regional Water Board agenda. 

Public Notices

2017 Public Scoping Meetings

August 22 and 23, 2017, Regional Water Board staff hosted public stakeholder meetings to receive comments and discuss possible revisions to the water quality permitting program for dairies in the North Coast Region.  The meetings include staff presentations summarizing current permit requirements, and potential revisions to the existing permits.  Below are the PowerPoint presentation slides and meeting notes from each day.

Email Subscriptions

To receive emails from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board as current information is distributed to our website, please request to be added to our email subscription list by visiting and clicking “Dairies”:


Program Contacts

Cherie Blatt, (707) 576-2755 Cherie.Blatt@waterboards.ca.gov
James Burke, (707) 576-2289 James.Burke@waterboards.ca.gov

Mailing address:
North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board,
5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Electronic submittals should be sent to: northcoast@waterboards.ca.gov

Additional Information Regarding Current Dairy Program

Annual Report Submittal as Part of the Current Monitoring and Reporting Program

Annual Report forms can be found at the following links:

General Waste Discharge Requirements
Monitoring and Reporting
Order No. R1-2012-0002

Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements
Monitoring and Reporting
Order No. R1-2012-0003


Current Dairy Regulations and Requirements

Current Fee Schedule

2012 Dairy Regulation Program (Current)  

Current Monitoring and Reporting Program

Water quality monitoring and submittal schedules, can be found in the following Monitoring and Reporting Orders:

General Waste Discharge Requirement Monitoring and Reporting Program Order No. R1-2012-0002 For Existing Cow Dairies Region Wide

Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements
Monitoring and Reporting Program
Order No. R1-2012-0003 For Existing Cow Dairies Region Wide

Historical Dairy Program Information

Renewal of Waiver at the December 15, 2016 Regional Water Board Meeting
On December 15, 2016, Regional Water Board conducted a Public Hearing and adopted Order No. R1-2016-0045, Renewal of the Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements, Order No. R1-2012-0003, for Existing Cow Dairies in the North Coast Region.  Renewal of the Conditional Waiver allows continued coverage of existing dairies while Regional Water Board staff revise the Dairy Program for the Regional Water Board consideration in 2018. Order No. R1-2016-0045 serves as a renewal of the Conditional Waiver and retains all of the provisions of the 2012 Conditional Waiver and the associated Monitoring and Reporting Program (MRP).

Audio recording and agenda for the item 5

Executive Officer’s Summary Report

Dairy Powerpoint Presentation

Dairy Waiver Renewal Adopted Order R1-2016-0045
Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Informational Item at the May 7, 2015 Regional Water Board Meeting
A dairy informational item was presented at the following North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Meeting:
9:00 A.M., Thursday, May 7, 2015
Wharfinger Building, #1 Marina Way, Eureka, CA
The dairy informational item was #4:
Update on Status of Implementing the North Coast Dairy Program General Waste Discharge Requirements Order No. R1-2012-0002 and Conditional Waiver Order No. R1-2012-0003
Online versions of the Board Meeting Agenda are available at:

Executive Officer’s Summary Report

Item 4: Dairy Presentation Powerpoint

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I get help filling out forms for the dairy permit and meeting water quality requirements?
For help in filling out forms, please call the Regional Water Board staff at (707) 576-2755. For assistance with meeting water quality requirements, contact your local NRCS, RCD, Farm Bureau, California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, or dairy representative.  See Links to Important Agricultural Programs below.

Finding a Specialist


I have a cow dairy in Region 1.  How do I know which permit to apply for?
The Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements (2012 Waiver) is for existing cow dairies with a low risk of pollution discharge to surface water or groundwater.  Also, these dairies must meet the requirements of the 2012 Waiver such as Title 27 minimum requirements in Attachment B.  All other dairies will need to enroll in the 2012 General Waste Discharge Requirements (2012 GWDR) and comply with those requirements. 

What do I have to do for my first permit?
The Notice of Intent (NOI) form for the 2012 Waiver and GWDR was due to the Regional Water Board in Santa Rosa by April 30, 2012.   Dairies covered under the 2012 GWDR must complete and be implementing their Waste Management Plan and Nutrient Management Plan by January 19, 2013.  Surface water quality sampling under the 2012 Waiver and GWDR began during the rainy season of 2012-2013.

I don’t have a cow dairy. Do I need a permit?
The 2012 Waiver and GWDR are written for cow dairies in Region 1 only.  Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) need to get a NPDES permit if identified as discharging to surface or groundwater.  In 2017, the Regional Water Board is considering adding water buffalo, goats, and sheep dairies to the revised dairy program.  Check back on this website for review of draft regulations and updates.

How do I find out what Region my property is in?

To see if your facility is within Region 1, please visit:

Enter your address in the bottom text box titled “To find the Regional Water Board for a particular location, click on the map or enter a street address,” then press “Go!”  The appropriate Regional Water Board information will pop up.

Links to Important Agricultural Programs
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)

Marin County RCD

 Sonoma RCD

 Gold Ridge RCD

Mendocino County RCD

Humboldt County RCD

Trinity County RCD

Siskyou County RCD

Shasta Valley RCD

Central Modoc RCD

California Dairy Quality Assurance Program

University of California Cooperative Extension

Marin County

Sonoma County

Lake County

Mendocino County

Humboldt – Del Norte Counties

Trinity County

Siskyou County

Modoc County

Western United Dairymen

 EPA link to CAFOs

State Water Resources Control Board – NPDES CAFO Program

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board TMDL Issues

San Francisco Bay Region 2 – Confined Animal Facilities

Central Valley Region 5 – Confined Animal Facilities