Summary of the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act
- Under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Porter-Cologne), the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) has the ultimate authority over State water rights and water quality policy. However, Porter-Cologne also establishes nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Boards) to oversee water quality on a day-to-day basis at the local/regional level.
- Regional Boards engage in a number of water quality functions in their respective regions. One of the most important is preparing and periodically updating Basin Plans,(water quality control plans). Each Basin Plan establishes:
1) beneficial uses of water designated for each water body to be protected;
2) water quality standards, known as water quality objectives, for both surface water and groundwater; and
3) actions necessary to maintain these standards in order to control non-point and point sources of pollution to the State's waters.
Permits issued to control pollution (i.e. waste-discharge requirements and NPDES [see below] permits) must implement Basin Plan requirements (i.e. water quality standards), taking into consideration beneficial uses to be protected.
- Regional Boards regulate all pollutant or nuisance discharges that may affect either surface water or groundwater. Any person proposing to discharge waste within any region must file a report of waste discharge with the appropriate regional board. No discharge may take place until:
1) the Regional Board issues waste discharge requirements or a waiver of the waste discharge requirements, and
2) 120 days have passed since complying with reporting requirements.
Under the auspices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State Board and nine Regional Boards also have the responsibility of granting Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, commonly known as NPDES permits, for certain point-source discharges. In summary, California routinely issues NPDES permits to selected point-source dischargers and either waste discharge requirements or conditioned water quality certification for other discharges. The nine Regional Boards differ somewhat in the extent they choose to apply waste discharge requirements and other regulatory actions. Project proponents should be careful to check with the appropriate Regional Board before proceeding with any action which may result in a discharge to State waters.
This file last modified on: Tuesday, February 5, 2002.
Document URL: http://ceres.ca.gov/wetlands/permitting/sec404_descrip.html
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