NPDES Permitting, Surveillance, and Enforcement

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board regulates the discharge of waste to surface waters (Rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and the Pacific Ocean) as well as to storm drains, to the ground surface, and to groundwaters.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program is a federal program, which has been delegated to the State of California for implementation. NPDES permits, also referred to as Waste Discharge Requirements, are issued to regulate the discharge of municipal wastewater or industrial process, cleaning, or cooling, wastewaters, commercial wastewater, treated groundwater from cleanup projects, or other wastes to surface waters only. If the waste discharge consists only of non-process storm water, it may be regulated under the NPDES Stormwater program. The discharge of waste to the ground surface or to groundwater is regulated under the Non-Chapter 15 Permitting, Surveillance, and Enforcement Program. General NPDES permits are issued under the Spills, Leaks, Investigations and Cleanup (SLIC) program to regulate the year-round discharge to surface waters of highly treated groundwater extracted from cleanup projects involving volatile organic compounds.

All municipalities within the North Coast Region which discharge wastewater to surface waters are currently regulated by NPDES permits issued by the Regional Water Board. Industrial, commercial, cleanup or other operations which discharge wastes directly into municipal, or other publicly owned wastewater collection systems, are not required to obtain a NPDES permit from the Regional Water Board, but must comply with waste discharge requirements issued by the appropriate public entity.

Non-municipal waste discharges typically regulated by NPDES permits in the North Coast Region include:

  • Canneries
  • Fish hatcheries
  • Wineries and other Food processing plants
  • Groundwater cleanup projects
  • Hardboard manufacturing plants
  • Pulp mills
  • Sawmills
  • Gravel Operations

All NPDES permits issued by the Regional Water Board include self-monitoring programs which require the permittee to collect pertinent water quality data and to submit it to the Regional Water Board for evaluation of compliance with the terms of the permit. In addition, Regional Water Board staff conducts periodic inspections of each permitted discharge to monitor permit compliance.

The Regional Water Board may take enforcement action in response to significant or chronic permit violations under the authority of the Federal Clean Water Act and Amendments, and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (California Water Code). Enforcement action can range from Notices of Violation issued by Board staff, to Cleanup and Abatement Orders or Administrative Civil Liability Complaints issued by the Regional Water Board Executive Officer, to Cease and Desist Orders, Administrative Civil Liability Orders, including civil monetary penalties, or Referrals to the State Attorney General's Office by the Regional Water Board.

Persons seeking to obtain NPDES permits will need to apply to the Regional Water Board using one or more of the following federal NPDES permit application forms:

  • General information completed in conjunction with Forms 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, Short Form A and Standard Form A. Form 1
  • Concentrated animal feeding operations and aquatic animal production facilities, new applications or renewals. Form 2B
  • Existing manufacturing, commercial, mining, and silvicultural operations (including federal facilities). Form 2C
  • New manufacturing, mining, commercial and silvicultural operations. Form 2D
  • New applications or renewals of non-manufacturing facilities, trailer parks, service stations, laundromats, commercial facilities, etc. Form 2E
  • Storm water discharges associated with industrial activity. Form 2F
  • Publicly Owned Treatment Works serving 10,000 persons or less. Short Form A
  • Publicly Owned Treatment Works serving over 10,000 persons or treating significant industrial wastes. Standard Form A
  • Publicly Owned Treatment Works. Form 2A

The above application forms are in PDF format.