Whom We Regulate

The Water Boards regulate wastewater discharges to surface water (rivers, ocean, etc.) and to groundwater (via land). The Water Boards also regulate storm water discharges from construction, industrial, and municipal activities; discharges from irrigated agriculture; dredge and fill activities; the alteration of any federal water body under the 401 certification program; and several other activities with practices that could degrade water quality.

We categorize our work into the following programs. Follow the links, where available, for more information:

For additional information regarding the need for specific activities or discharges that could affect California's surface, coastal, or ground waters, to be regulated by the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board, see Do I Need a Permit? below.

For information on the facilities we regulate and their compliance data, visit the CIWQS Database Public Reports page.

  • For wastewater facilities use the programs "NPDES" and "Nonsubchapter15," abbreviated "NON15."
  • For land disposal facilities use "Land Disposal," abbreviated "LNDISP" and "Subchapter 15," abbreviated "SUB15"
  • For collections systems use “NON15” and look for facilities with “CS” at the end of the name
  • For storm water use "Storm Water" or "CONSTW," "INDSTW," "MNSTW1," "MNSTW2."
  • For 401 Certification use "401 Certification," abbreviated "CER."

For more information use the glossary found at the top of the Public Reports Website and the Fact Sheets, which describe the function, purpose, and terminology of a specific report.

Find a Board Order
On State and Regional Water Boards site, select the region from the drop-down. At the Regional Board Web page, click the Board Decisions tab (on the top of the page). There will be a link to Adopted Orders. Each Board’s link and search is slightly different. Alternatively, for enforcement orders throughout the state refer to the Enforcement Order report above.

Do I Need a Permit?

If your activities, discharges, or proposed activities or discharges from your property or business could affect California's surface, coastal, or ground waters, in most cases you will need to apply for a permit from the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board. Discharges to community sewer systems are typically not regulated by Regional Water Quality Control Boards.

If you are discharging pollutants (or proposing to) into surface water you must file a complete National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application form(s) and appropriate application fee with the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Other types of discharges, such as those affecting groundwater or from diffused sources (e.g., erosion from soil disturbance or waste discharges to land) are handled by filing a Form 200, Report of Waste Discharge, and appropriate application fee with the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board. Upon receipt of a complete application package, Regional Water Board staff will determine whether to propose adoption of Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs), prohibit the discharge, or waive the WDRs.

In some cases, some discharge activities may be waived and some discharge activities can be handled through enrollment in an existing general permit.

Typical activities that affect water include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • discharge of process wastewater not discharging to a sewer (factories, cooling water, etc.)
  • confined animal facilities (e.g., dairies)
  • waste containments (landfills, waste ponds, etc.)
  • cannabis cultivation
  • construction sites
  • boatyards
  • discharges of pumped groundwater and cleanup (underground tank cleanup, dewatering, spills)
  • material handling areas draining to storm drains
  • sewage treatment facilities
  • sanitary sewer overflows
  • filling of wetlands
  • dredging, filling and disposal of dredge wastes
  • commercial activities not discharging to a sewer (e.g., factory wastewater, storm drain)
  • waste to land
  • use of recycled water

For further questions, please contact the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board.