Statewide Water Quality Control Plans for Trash

Rainstorms wash trash into gutters and storm drains which eventually lead into streams, creeks, rivers, and the ocean. Cigarette butts, paper, fast food containers, plastic bags, cans and bottles, used diapers, construction site debris, industrial preproduction plastic pellets, old tires, and appliances are just some of the different types of trash produced by human activity that continue to pollute waterways. Trash is a significant pollutant to California’s waters that causes adverse effects to aquatic life, wildlife, and public health.

Reducing trash in waterways is a problem that can be solved with the collected effort of the public, agencies, organizations, and permittees. Just as there are many kinds of trash, there are many methods to prevent it from fouling our waterways such as street sweeping, education programs on littering, and the installation of trash-catching devices on storm drains.

The Trash Provisions do the following: (1) establish a narrative water quality objective for trash, (2) describe how to apply the objective, (3) establish a prohibition on the discharge of trash, (4) provide implementation requirements for permitted storm water and other discharges, (5) set a time schedule for compliance, and (6) provide a framework for monitoring and reporting requirements. The objective is to provide statewide consistency for the Water Boards' regulatory approach to protect aquatic life and public health beneficial uses, and reduce environmental issues associated with trash in state waters, while focusing limited resources on high trash generating areas.

The Trash Provisions were adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) on April 7, 2015. The Trash Provisions were approved by the California Office of Administrative Law pursuant to Government Code section 11353 on December 2, 2015. The Provisions were approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, consistent with the requirements of section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act and 40 C.F.R. Part 131, on January 12, 2016.

For additional information, or to request the documents below, please contact Mary Boyd at for more information.

Final Documentation

Office of Administrative Law (OAL) Approval

  • Dec 02, 2015 – Endorsed and approved Form 400 (PDF) - Available upon Request
  • Dec 02, 2015 – Approval letter – Available upon request

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Approval

  • January 12, 2016 – Notice of Approval (PDF) - Available upon Request

State Water Board Meetings

  • August 5, 2014 Board Meeting, Agenda Item 9 – Public hearing on the proposed amendments to statewide water quality control plans to control trash in surface waters.
  • April 7, 2015 Board Meeting, Agenda Item 8 – Consideration of the proposed Amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for Ocean Waters of California to Control Trash and Part 1 Trash Provisions of the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California.

Related Regional Water Board Meetings

  • November 17, 2015 Board Meeting, Agenda Item 5 - Consideration of a proposed Resolution approving an amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Los Angeles Region to revise the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Trash in the Los Angeles River Watershed and the TMDL for Trash in the Ballona Creek Watershed.

Staff Contact

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