Regulation of Composting Operations
The State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Water Boards) are required to protect the quality and beneficial uses of the waters of the state. The California Water Code requires that anyone who discharges waste that could affect waters of the state must submit a report of waste discharge. Current practice is to issue individual waste discharge requirements (WDRs) for larger composting facilities. A conditional waiver for “green waste-only” composting facilities was in effect from 1994 until 2003, when a change in law required all waivers to be either renewed or replaced with WDRs. The State Water Board developed draft statewide general WDRs that will address water quality protection at composting facilities that currently exist or may be constructed.
The State Water Resources Control Board released for public comment the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations (General Order). The comment period for both documents ended on March 2, 2015. A public workshop was held on February 13, 2015. A Board Workshop was held on June 16, 2015 in the Cal/EPA Headquarters Building. Several informal, focused stakeholder meetings were held prior to and following the Board Workshop. The State Water Board certified the EIR and adopted the General Order on August 4, 2015.
- General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations (Order WQ 2015-0121-DWQ)
- Composting General Order Requirements Matrix, August 4, 2015
- Resolution No. 2015-0054
- Environmental Impact Report (including Appendices A-L)
- Notice of Determination
- Response to Comments
- Report to the State Water Board: Implementation of General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations (August 2017)
General Order Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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- Why are there limitations on additives for Tier I and Tier II facilities
Additives are materials mixed with feedstocks or active compost to create favorable composting conditions. Generally, additives are incorporated at rates to consume or fix/immobilize constituents during active composting. A number of factors were considered during the development of additive limitations for each tier including the character and volume of material and potential threat to water quality, design specifications required for protection of water quality, additive limitations at existing facilities currently operating in the state pursuant to waste discharge requirements issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards, general standards of practice, and additive limitations imposed by other states.
Materials such as manure pose a higher threat to water quality due to concentrations of constituents such as pathogens, nitrates, and salts. Tier I facilities are not required to have improved working surfaces or ponds; limiting higher threat additive materials to 10% is required to be protective of water quality.
Tier II facilities are constructed and operated to be more protective of water quality. Limiting additives to 30% at Tier II facilities is based on industry practice that a material comprising more than 30%, on a total volume basis, is considered a feedstock. Additionally, incorporation of greater percentages of raw materials, such as fertilizing agents, may have the potential to create anaerobic or other undesirable conditions.
- How is agricultural composting defined?
The Composting General Order, Attachment A, defines agricultural composting as the operation of composting conducted in agricultural settings where: (1) feedstocks consist of materials generated onsite by production of farm, ranch, agricultural, horticultural, silvicultural, floricultural, vermicultural, or viticultural products, for example, orchard and vineyard prunings, culls and crop residues, and spoiled or unsalvageable food commodities (but not including animal carcasses), and; (2) the resulting compost product is returned to that same agricultural site, or an agricultural site owned by the owner of the composting activity and applied at an agronomic rate. No more than an incidental amount of up to 1,000 cubic yards of compost product may be given away or sold annually.
- Are all farms that compost manure required to enroll under the Composting General Order?
Agricultural facilities choosing to compost materials generated on site may be exempt from the requirements of the Composting General Order if the conditions specified in the definition of Agricultural Composting in Appendix A are satisfied. It should be noted Agricultural Composting does not limit feedstocks to Agricultural Materials. If the conditions specified for exemption from coverage under the Composting General Order are met, Agricultural Composting operations may still be required to obtain coverage under other permits.
- Are all operations that compost manure required to enroll under Tier II?
The applicability of the Composting General Order to manure composting depends on the use of manure in the composting process. If used as an additive (up to 10% of the total volume), manure may be acceptable at a Tier I facility. Manure is an acceptable feedstock at a Tier II facility. However, if manure is composted in a manner that meets the specifications for Agricultural Composting, operations within a fully enclosed vessel, operations with less than 500 cubic yards at any given time of allowable materials, or operations less than 5,000 cubic yards of allowable materials managed to cover materials during storm events and prevent the production of leachate, those activities may be exempt from the requirements of the Composting General Order. Composting operations conducted in a manner other than those defined in the Composting General Order or as exempted may be subject to individual waste discharge requirements issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
- Can you explain the Agricultural Composting exemption in the Composting General Order compared to the agricultural exclusion in California Code of Regulations, Title 14?
The Agricultural Composting exemption in the Composting General Order is similar to the agricultural exclusion in California Code of Regulations, Title 14 (Title 14), Section 17855(a)(1), in that both set limits on feedstock source and the amount of finished compost that may be sold or given away. However, the agricultural exclusion in Title 14 limits feedstocks to "agricultural material" as defined in Title 14, Section 17852(a)(5), whereas the Composting General Order agricultural exemption does not limit feedstocks to "agricultural material. Therefore, although Title 14 includes manure in its definition for agricultural materials and the Composting General Order excludes manure from its definition of agricultural materials, this difference does not impact the application of the agricultural composting exemption in the Composting General Order. Agricultural composting facilities that are eligible for the agricultural exclusion from Title 14 requirements would likewise be eligible for the agricultural exemption from the requirements of the Composting General Order. Agricultural composting operations not eligible for the agricultural exemption may be required to comply with the requirements of the Composting General Order. Similarly, agricultural operations not eligible for the agricultural exclusion in Title 14, Section 17855(a)(1), may be subject to the Agricultural Material Composting Operations requirements of Title 14, Section 17856.
General Order Enrollees
The table below is continuously updated as additional operations become fully enrolled.
|Recology Grover Environmental Products (Vernalis); Recology Blossom Valley Organics North, Stanislaus County; Grover Landscape Services||T10000010032||817431|
|Northern Compost, Northern Recycling Compost - Zamora Facility; Environmental Reclaiming Solns||L10008133205||815001|
|SA Recycling LLC||WDD100008949||815369|
|Chico Greenwaste Composting Facility||T10000010186||827346|
|Griffith Park Composting||T10000005488||829416|
|Nursery Products Hawes Composting Facility||T10000007056||745389|
|Z-Best Composting Facility||T10000008201||816605|
|California Wood Recycling, Inc / Agromin Organics Recycling||T10000005297||829627|
|Compost Solutions Inc Orland Compost facility||T10000010322||649646|
|Agromin Chino Green Material Composting Operations||T10000009584||829082|
|Vision Recycling Benicia Compost Facility / Goodyear Partners LLC||WDD100009936||829297|
|Vision Recycling Greenville Road Compost Facility||WDD100009938||829298|
|Valley Naturals Composting Facility||T10000009996||829835|
|Harvest - Tulare Composting Facility||WDD100009386||266681|
|Red Star Plant Foods Composting||T10000009585||215363|
|Limoneira /Agromin Agricultural Composting operation (California Wood Recycling, lnc./Agromin)||T10000010023||831561|
|Vicini Brothers Green Material Recycling||T10000010229||827096|
|City of Modesto Co-Compost Project||T10000010311||826886|
|Tracy Material Recovery and Transfer Station||T10000010231||826983|
|Mid Valley Disposal Recycling and Transfer Station||830138|
|Old Durham Wood Inc||T10000010294||245876|
|Western Placer Waste Management Authority Composting Facility||L10007475187||827097|
|Triple J Farms||T10000010312||827503|
|Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility Covered Aerated Static Pile Composting Facility||L10005834311||205295|
|Mount Vernon Recycling & Composting Facility||L10005531574||243568|
|Recycled Wood Products-Moreno Valley||T10000009586||241413|
|R & S Soil Products Inc Irvine||T10000009587||823999|
Ex Parte Disclosure Requirements
This item is subject to the ex parte communication disclosure requirements of Water Code section 13287, as explained in http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/laws_regulations/docs/exparte.pdf. Any communications between interested persons and board members (other than at a noticed board meeting or submitted as a comment letter in compliance with the public notice) must be disclosed by the interested person within seven days of the communication. Sample disclosure forms are available at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/laws_regulations/docs/swrcb_godf_fillin.pdf.
This item will be considered at the August 4, 2015, Board meeting. Beginning Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at 12:00 noon, ex parte communications between interested persons and board members concerning this item are prohibited.
- Eric Potashner Ex Parte Communications Disclosure (occurred on June 11, 2015)
- Justin Oldfield Ex Parte Communications Disclosure (occurred on June 16, 2015)
Past Activities and Documents
Stakeholder Meetings - Development of Performance Measures for Implementation of the Compost General Order
State Water Board staff will host informal stakeholder meetings to develop performance measures related to the implementation of the Compost General Order.
- Sacramento, California:
- Date and Time: Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- Place: CalEPA Building, Byron Sher Auditorium, 2nd floor, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95814
- Riverside, California:
- Date and Time: Thursday, June 23, 2016, 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
- California Tower Building, Highgrove Room, 3737 Main Street, Suite 500, Riverside, CA 92501-3348
- Sacramento, California:
Joint State Water Board and CalRecycle Stakeholder Meetings – Land Application of Compostable Materials
State Water Board staff and Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) staff will jointly host education and outreach meetings regarding land application of compostable materials. All attendees are required to register with CalRecycle at 2016 Land Application Meeting.
- Sacramento, California:
- Date and Time: Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
- Place: CalEPA Building, Byron Sher Auditorium, 2nd floor 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95814
- Riverside, California:
- Date and Time: Thursday, June 23, 2016, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
- Place: California Tower Building, Highgrove Room, 3737 Main Street, Suite 500, Riverside, CA 92501-3348
Documents for State Water Board Consideration on August 4, 2015:
- New! Second Revised Notice - Second Revised Notice of Public Hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Report and Proposed General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations
- Response to Comments, July 23, 2015
- Draft General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations, July 20, 2015
- Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), July 20, 2015
- Draft EIR Appendices A-L, July 20, 2015
- Draft Composting General Order Requirements Matrix, July 20, 2015
Revised Documents as of May 29, 2015:
- REVISED Public Notice - Notice of Availability; Notice of Public Workshop; Notice of Public Meeting: DEIR and Proposed General
- Public Meeting: DEIR and Proposed General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations
- Draft General Waste Discharge Requirements For Composting Operations - May 29, 2015
- Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - May 29, 2015
- Draft EIR Appendices A-L - May 29, 2015
- Draft Composting General Order Requirements Matrix- May 29, 2015
Revised Documents as of January 6, 2015:
- Public Notice- Notice of Availability; Notice of Public Workshop; Notice of Public Meeting: DEIR and Proposed General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations
- Draft General Waste Discharge Requirements For Composting Operations - January 6, 2015
- Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - January 6, 2015
- Draft EIR Appendices A-L - January 6, 2015
Public Workshop: February 13, 2015 at 10:00 AM
- Compost Fact Sheet: Draft General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations, February 9, 2015
The revisions to the concepts are provided below and reflect comments received since the August 23, 2013 public scoping meeting.
- DRAFT Composting General Order Requirements – Revised January 2015
- DRAFT Composting General Order Requirements – Revised May 2014
- DRAFT Composting General Order Requirements – August 16, 2013
Public Scoping Meeting: Programmatic Environmental Impact Report
- August 23, 2013 - CEQA Public Scoping Meeting Agenda
- Revised Notice - Public Comment Period Extended to September 6, 2013 (by Noon).
- Notice Of Preparation And Notice Of Public Scoping Meeting Environmental Impact Report For General Waste Discharge Requirements For Composting Operations
Informational Meeting: Changes to the Draft Statewide Order for Composting Facilities
- Agenda with instructions
- DRAFT Composting General Order Requirements - May 2013
- Northern California (Sacramento)
- Date and Time: May 20, 2013, 2 PM to 4 PM
- Place: Cal/EPA Building, Coastal Hearing Room
- Southern California (Riverside)
- Date and Time: May 21, 2013, 2 PM to 4 PM
- Place: Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board
State of California Resources
Financial Assistance Information
- California Department of Food and Agriculture - FREP
- Water Board's Division of Financial Assistance Grant and Loan Programs
- Water Board's FAAST
- CalRecycle's Grant, Payment, and Loan Programs
- State Water Resources Control Board
- Biosolids Program
- Central Valley Salinity Alternative for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS)
- Data and Databases
- Land Disposal Program: Waste Discharge Requirements
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
Regional Water Quality Control Boards
- North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
- San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board
- San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board
Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery
- Assembly Bill 939
- Composting and Mulch Regulations (Title 14 California Code of Regulations)
- Organic Materials Management
- Organics Road Map - Strategic Directive 8.3
- December 3, 2009 Webinar Meeting
Current Water Management Practices at Composting Facilities
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Other States Resources
- Leaf Composting Regulations (Title 22a, Section 22a-208i(a)-1 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (effective February 16, 1994))
- Composting Regulations (Delaware Administrative Code, Title 7 Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Section 1301, Regulations Governing Solid Waste)
- Composting Regulations (Idaho Administrative Code, IDAPA 58, Title 01, Chapter 06, Section 58.01.06 - Solid Waste Management Rules
- Composting Regulations (Minnesota Administrative Rules, 7035.2525, Solid Waste Management Facilities Governed)
- General Solid Waste Guidance Webpage, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
- New York
- Composting Regulations (Chapter IV, Subpart 360-5: Composting Facilities)
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
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