Waste Discharge Requirements for Wastewater, Waste Residuals, & Recycled Water
The Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) Program regulates all discharges of waste to land. Waste discharge requirements adopted under the WDR Program protect surface water by either prohibiting discharge of a pollutant to waters of the U.S. or prescribing requirements for discharge to surface waters that are not waters of the U.S., and they protect groundwater by prescribing waste containment, treatment, and control requirements. The WDR program, also known as the Non-Chapter 15 Permitting, Surveillance and Enforcement Program, is a mandated program issuing WDRs to regulate the discharge of municipal, industrial, commercial and other wastes to land that will or have the potential to affect groundwater.
Section 13260(a) of the California Water Code requires that any person discharging waste or proposing to discharge waste within any region, other than to a community sewer system, that could affect the quality of the waters of the State, must file a report of waste discharge. All waste discharge requirements issued by the Regional Water Board include self-monitoring programs requiring the waste discharger to collect pertinent water quality data and to submit it to the Regional Water Board for evaluation of compliance with waste discharge requirements.
WDRs are written for a specific discharger (individual WDRs) or to regulate a similar group of dischargers (general WDRs). In recent years, the Program staff has also used conditional waivers, which may be used to regulate those discharges that have the lowest threat to water quality. WDRs and waivers issued in the North Coast Region can be viewed on the Adopted Orders Page.
- Agriculture Lands Discharge Program
- Aquifer Storage and Recovery Projects
- Community Wastewater Treatment Facilities
- See Adopted Orders for individual permits
- General Waste Discharge Requirements for Small Domestic Water Treatment Systems
- Domestic Sewage Sludge and Biosolids
- On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS/Septic Systems)
- Sanitary Sewer Overflows
- Recycled Water
- Wine, Beverage and Food Processors
Common Types of WDRs
Below are some of the common types of WDRs, plus other statewide Water Board programs administered under the WDRs Program. Some categories of waste may have specific program information, applicable general permits, and/or conditional waivers
The scope of the WDRs Program also includes the discharge of wastes classified as inert, pursuant to section 20230 of Title 27. Exemptions from Title 27 may be granted for nine categories of discharges (e.g., sewage, wastewater, etc.) that meet, and continue to meet, the preconditions listed for each specific exemption.
- Require full containment (which falls under the Land Disposal Program)
- Involve confined animal facilities (Which falls under the Dairy Program)
- Involve Forsestry Management Practices (Which falls under the Forestry Activities Program)
- Discharge pollutants to a surface water of the United States (which falls under the NPDES Program), but does include discharges to surface waters not subject to the NPDES Program. Each point of potential release of waste constituents, whether a feature for waste storage, treatment, disposal, or recycling, must be evaluated separately to determine under what program it must be regulated.
Section 13260(a) of the California Water Code requires that any person discharging waste or proposing to discharge waste within any region, other than to a community sewer system, that could affect the quality of the waters of the State, must file a report of waste discharge. This report must outline the types of wastes to be discharged in order to determine appropriate waste management unit design, operation, monitoring, closure and post closure maintenance requirements. The first step in obtaining Waste Discharge Requirement is determining the classification of wastes discharged to land according to risk they pose to water quality, and determine appropriate waste management options. This link provides a conceptual framework for waste classification and determination of waste management options
The WDR program does not regulate facilities that do not:
- California Water Code: Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act Excerpts of California Water Code, Division 7 (Water Quality)
- California Code of Regulations The entire California Code of Regulations maintained by the California Office of Administrative Law.
- Title 23, Chapter 15, Sections 2550.00 - 2550.10
- Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Region (Basin Plan) The Basin Plan is the Regional Water Board's master water quality control planning document Basin Plans contain water quality objectives, which will ensure the reasonable protection of beneficial uses and the prevention of nuisance, and a program of implementation for achieving those objectives.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 68-16 Commonly known as the State’s Antidegradation Policy the goal of this policy is to maintain high quality waters. Whenever the existing water quality is better than the established water quality objectives, such existing quality shall be maintained.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 88-63, established that all waters are considered suitable, or potentially suitable, for municipal or domestic supply (MUN) and should be designated for this use, with certain exceptions.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 92-49: Policies and procedures for investigation, cleanup, and abatement of discharges under water code section 13304.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 2016-0010: Adopting the Human Right to Water as a Core Value and Directing Its Implementation in Water Board Programs and Activities.
- Policy for Waste Quality Control for Recycled Water. The Recycled Water Policy promotes the use of recycled water to achieve sustainable local water supplies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Recycled Water Policy recognizes the fact that some groundwater basins in the state contain salts and nutrients that exceed or threaten to exceed water quality objectives in the applicable Basin Plans or cause degradation of high quality waters.
- State Water Board Resolution No. 2012-0032 Water Quality Control Policy for Siting, Design, Operation, and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS Policy). To accomplish this purpose, the OWTS Policy establishes a statewide, risk-based, tiered approach for the regulation and management of OWTS installations and replacements and sets the level of performance and protection expected from OWTS. For additional information see the OWTS Policy Program Page
Regulations and Policies
Charles Reed, Land Disposal and Groundwater
Permitting Unit Supervisor
(707) 576-2752, Charles.Reed@waterboards.ca.gov
- California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS)
- California Water Code: Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act
- Electronic Submittal of Information (ESI) for GeoTracker
- Facilities / GeoTracker
- Groundwater Modeling
- Do I need a Permit?
- Waste Classification
- Designated Level Methodology: For Waste Classification and Cleanup Level Determination
- Water Quality Goals
- Waste Discharge Fee Schedules
Resources and Other Documents
none at this time