General Waste Discharge Requirements For The Public Display Of Fireworks In The San Diego Region

Fireworks Regulation

The San Diego Water Board issued a general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for discharges to costal and inland surface waters in the San Diego Region from the public display of fireworks. The rules affect firework displays over any water body within the boundaries of the San Diego Region, including all ocean waters, bays, estuaries, rivers, streams, reservoirs, and lakes.

Public drinking and recreational waters can be polluted by fireworks discharges. Some of the more common chemical pollutants used in fireworks to produce visual color or explosive effects at typical community display events include aluminum, antimony, barium, carbon, calcium, chlorine, cesium, copper, iron, potassium, lithium, magnesium, nitrates, chlorates and perchlorates, phosphorus, sodium, sulfur, strontium, titanium, and zinc. One of the main pollutants of concern, perchlorate, is known to contaminate drinking water supplies if significant amounts accumulate in waterways. Over time, the cumulative loading of pollutants from firework events can cause toxicity to bottom-dwelling aquatic organisms in the receiving water sediments.

The San Diego Water Board's adoption of the NPDES Permit enables firework event promoters to apply for coverage under the Permit so that they can lawfully discharge pollutants to surface waters from firework events in accordance with the terms of federal and state water pollution laws.

The management measures specified in the NPDES Permit are consistent with existing regulations, requiring to the extent practical, the collection, removal, and management of firework debris found during inspection of the affected receiving waters. The NPDES Permit holds firework event promoters accountable by requiring submittal of a post-event report certifying that the management measures were implemented throughout the firework event.

Order No. R9-2011-0022 (Adopted 5/11/2011)

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