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Do I need a permit?

Do I need a permit?

If your activities or discharges from your property or business affect California's surface, coastal, or ground waters, you will need to apply for a permit from the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board.

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 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 Report of Waste Discharge with the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board in order to obtain Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs).

For specified situations, some permits 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.)
  • construction sites
  • boatyards
  • discharges of pumped groundwater and cleanup (underground tank cleanup, dewatering, spills)
  • material handling areas draining to storm drains
  • sewage treatment facilities
  • 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

Forms & Permits

  • General Orders
    Waste Discharge Requirements and Permits that apply to specific categories of waste discharge. Application forms and instructions are included where appropriate.

  • Waivers
    Waivers of Reports of Waste Discharge and/or Waste Discharge Requirements for specific types of waste discharge. Application forms and instructions are included where appropriate.

  • Do I Need a Permit? Permit Assistance Information
    If your activities or discharges from your property or business could affect California's surface, coastal, or ground waters, you will need to apply for a permit from the appropriate RWQCB. This series of web pages helps you determine whether you need a permit, provides links to the appropriate forms, and gives a list of who to contact for further assistance.

  • Report of Waste Discharge / NPDES Permit Application
    Standard Form 200, and other forms used to apply for Waste Discharge Requirements or a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Instructions are included.
    Any person discharging waste or proposing to discharge waste that could affect the quality of the waters of the state, other than into a community sewer system and any person operating or proposing to construct an injection well is required to file a Report of Waste Discharge with the Regional Water Board. Reports are also required for any material change or proposed change in the character, location, or volume of such a discharge. [California Water Code, Section 13260]

  • Water Quality Certification Application
    This form is used to apply for Water Quality Certification for discharges of dredged and fill materials. Instructions are included.
    By federal law, every applicant for a federal permit or license for an activity which may result in a discharge into a water body must request state certification that the proposed activity will not violate state and federal water quality standards. Water quality standards include beneficial uses of water, water quality objectives and antidegradation policy.

--Web page updated 03/26/2014