Pacific Southwest (Region 9) NPDES Wastewater & Stormwater Permits
- Stormwater Program, Phase 1
- Stormwater Program, Phase 2
- Permitting Authority
- Petitions for Designation
- When Stormwater is Used to Recharge Ground Water
- Reasonable Assurance Analysis Guide (February 2017)
The 1987 Water Quality Act (WQA) added section 402(p) to the Clean Water Act, requiring that EPA issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for the following five categories of stormwater discharges:
- discharges permitted prior to February 4, 1987
- discharges associated with industrial activity
- discharges from large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) (systems serving a population of 250,000 or more)
- discharges from medium MS4s (systems serving a population of 100,000 or more, but less than 250,000)
- discharges judged by the permitting authority to be significant sources of pollutants or which contribute to a violation of a water quality standard
The five categories listed above are generally referred to as Phase I of the stormwater program. On November 16, 1990, as a first step in carrying out the requirements of the 1987 WQA, EPA promulgated final regulations (40 CFR 122.26) for stormwater discharges from MS4s serving a population over 100,000, and for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity (55 Fed. Reg. 47990). The Phase I industrial stormwater program requires permitting for construction sites which disturb five or more acres and for numerous types of industrial facilities which are identified in the regulations by standard industrial classification (SIC) code or narrative description.
Additional background information on the stormwater program and numerous guidance documents may be found at EPA's NPDES Stormwater Program site. Copies of stormwater program materials may also be obtained by from EPA's Office of Water Resource Center at (202) 566-1729.
The stormwater program also includes a Phase II, which addresses discharges not covered by Phase I. U.S. EPA issued final Phase II regulations on December 8, 1999 (64 Fed. Reg. 68722). These regulations require stormwater permits by March 10, 2003 for numerous small MS4s, construction sites of one to five acres, and industrial facilities owned or operated by small MS4s which were previously exempted under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
The Phase II regulations also modified the Phase I regulations to provide an exemption from stormwater permitting for industrial facilities within the categories described at 40 CFR 122.26(b) (14) (i)-(ix) which have no exposure of industrial materials and activities to stormwater. Facilities claiming the exemption must submit a no exposure certification to the permitting authority once every five years (see also no exposure certification guidance). The Phase II regulations retain the no exposure exemption for "light" industrial facilities listed in the Phase I regulations at 40 CFR 122.26(b) (14) (xi). However, to claim the exemption, these facilities must now also submit the no exposure certification once every five years. Construction sites are ineligible for the no exposure exemption.
The NPDES permit program, including stormwater permitting, has been delegated to the state in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada (except for Indian lands in these states). EPA Region 9 is the permitting authority for Indian lands in Arizona, California and Nevada, and the Pacific Island Territories of Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Johnston Atoll, and Wake and Midway Islands. The vast majority of construction sites and industrial facilities within EPA Region 9 (and nationally) which discharge stormwater are permitted under general NPDES permits.
EPA Region 9 developed this EPA Region 9 NPDES Stormwater Permit Categories (pdf) (87.98 KB, April 2012) .
For the areas where Region 9 is the permitting authority, one general permit has been issued for construction sites disturbing one or more acres (73 FR 40338, July 14, 2008). This permit is a reissuance of the previous permit which was issued on July 1, 2003.
A second general permit (called the multi-sector general permit (MSGP)) (73 FR 56572, September 29, 2008) has been issued for industrial facilities other than construction sites. The permit is a reissuance of the previous MSGP which was issued on October 30, 2000.
Construction and Industrial Permit Application
To apply for permit coverage under the construction general permit, a construction notice of intent (NOI) must be submitted to EPA. A similar industrial notice of intent is required for the MSGP. Permit coverage under the construction general permit may be terminated by submitting a construction notice of termination. Permit coverage under the MSGP may be terminated by submitting an industrial notice of termination.
Phase I MS4s for Arizona
Region 9 issued MS4 permits for the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tucson, Pima County, and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) in 1997 prior to Arizona receiving authorization to administer the NPDES permit program. The MS4 permits for the city of Phoenix and ADOT were reissued by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and the State is currently in the process of reissuing the other MS4 permits.
Phase II Small MS4s
Region 9 has issued individual permits for the small MS4s in the geographic areas under its jurisdiction: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
MS4s for AZ, CA, HI and NV
MS4 permits have been issued in the States of California, Hawaii and Nevada for all the large and medium MS4s covered by the Phase I stormwater program. General NPDES permits have also been issued for Phase II small MS4s in the States of Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.
Construction/Industrial Permits for AZ, CA, HI, and NV
General NPDES permits have been issued in California, Hawaii and Nevada for stormwater discharges from construction sites disturbing one or more acres, and for Phase I industrial facilities. In Nevada, the State has also issued a separate general permit covering metal mining facilities. The State of Arizona has issued a general permit for construction sites disturbing one or more acres. In addition, the State of Arizona is now administering EPA’s MSGP for non-Indian lands in Arizona; when the MSGP was issued in 2000 (prior to the State receiving NPDES program authorization) it covered the entire State of Arizona.
On September 17, 2015, EPA Region 9 received another petition seeking designation of unregulated stormwater discharges from commercial, industrial and institutional sites in specific watersheds in Los Angeles County. The watersheds are the Alamitos Bay/Los Cerritos Channel watershed and the Dominguez Channel and Los Angeles/Long Beach Inner Harbor watersheds. Many of the receiving waters in these watersheds are currently impaired for certain pollutants such as heavy metals or other pollutants.
For these watersheds, the Region concluded that effective programs, stemming primarily from MS4 permits issued by the Los Angeles Regional Board, are already underway to address the existing water quality impairments. Accordingly, the Region again declined to begin the designation process for the discharges within these watersheds. The Region will continue to monitor progress in restoring and maintaining water quality in the watersheds and if circumstances change, may exercise its designation authority.
Alamitos Bay/Los Cerritos Channel Petition (pdf)
(263.7 KB, September 17, 2015)
Petition for a determination that stormwater discharges from commercial, industrial, and institutional sites contribute to water quality standards violations in the Alamitos Bay/Los Cerritos Watershed (Los Angeles County, California) and require Clean Water Act permits.
- Cover Letter from the EPA Region 9 Regional Administrator to Natural Resources Defense Council (pdf) (427.15 KB, October 17, 2016)
- Analysis of Dominguez Channel and Los Angeles/Long Beach Inner Harbor Petition (pdf) (1.38 MB, October 17, 2016)
Dominguez Channel and Los Angeles/Long Beach Inner Harbor Petition (pdf)
(2.15 MB, September 17, 2015)
Petition for a determination that Stormwater Discharges From Commercial, Industrial, And Institutional Sites Contribute To Water Quality Standards Violations in Dominguez Channel and the Los Angeles/Long Beach Inner Harbor (Los Angeles County, California) And Require Clean Water Act Permits.
- Cover Letter from the EPA Region 9 Regional Administrator to Natural Resources Defense Council (pdf) (458.9 KB, October 17, 2016)
- Analysis of Alamitos Bay/Los Cerritos Channel Petition (pdf) (1.46 MB, October 17, 2016)
Additional information concerning state stormwater programs may be obtained from EPA and the following state agencies:
- EPA Tribal Stormwater Information
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality: Stormwater Overview
- California State Water Resources Control Board: Stormwater Program
- Hawaii Department of Health: Clean Water Branch
- Nevada Division of Environmental Protection: Stormwater Discharge Permits
On July 10, 2013, EPA Region 9 received a petition seeking designation for Clean Water Act permitting of currently unregulated stormwater discharges from commercial, industrial, and institutional sites that discharge non de minimis amounts of certain pollutants to waters that are impaired by those pollutants. The pollutants identified were lead, zinc, copper, phosphorus, nitrogen, sediment, biological oxygen demand, and chemical oxygen demand. The Regions conducted analyses in which each considered: 1) the likelihood for exposure of pollutants to precipitation for the category of sources identified, 2) whether sufficient data are available on which to make a determination of potential adverse water quality impacts for the category of sources identified, and 3) whether such sources were adequately addressed by other environmental programs.
Region 9 has concluded that there is insufficient data at this time on which to base a region-wide designation of commercial, industrial, and institutional sites and, given the scope of the petition, the Region does not have that level of information reasonably available. In Region 9, existing MS4 permits cover the majority of stormwater discharges from the areas where these sites are predominantly located. Although the Region has declined to begin a designation process for a categorical designation of stormwater discharges from these sites to impaired waters as requested by petitioners, an important part of the Region’s ongoing stormwater program is evaluating the contribution of unregulated stormwater discharges to water quality exceedances. The Region has previously exercised its authority to designate unregulated stormwater discharges for NPDES permitting and will continue to do so as information supports targeted designations.
Petition For a Determination from the Natural Resources Defense Council (pdf)
(455.46 KB, July 10, 2013)
Petition for a determination that stormwater discharges from commercial, industrial, and institutional sites contribute to water quality standards violations and require Clean Water Act permits.
- Cover Letter from the EPA Region 9 Regional Administrator to Natural Resources Defense Council (pdf) (98.42 KB, March 12, 2014)
- Analysis of Petition for Designation (pdf) (6.06 MB, March 2014)
Discharges to ground water may be subject to local, state or federal requirements. Specifically, discharges via subsurface fluid distribution systems or other subsurface infiltrative devices may be subject to the federal underground injection control (UIC) requirements. The UIC program, authorized pursuant to the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act, exists to prevent the endangerment of underground sources of drinking water. Stormwater injection wells need to be listed on state or federal inventory lists, and should not be used for the disposal of fluids other than storm water. To limit the potential for ground water contamination, EPA recommends that stormwater injection wells be constructed with spill catchment, and not be constructed to intersect the water table. For more information, see the list of EPA Regional UIC contacts.
Developing Reasonable Assurance (pdf)
(1.42 MB, February 2017)
EPA Region 9 guide to performing model-based analysis to support Municipal Stormwater Program planning.
APPENDICES: Developing Reasonable Assurance (pdf)
(2.81 MB, February 2017)
Appendices to a Guide to Performing Model-Based Analysis to Support Municipal Stormwater Program Planning
Public notices will appear here when available.
Municipal Stormwater Programs
- Daly City
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Los Angeles County
- San Diego
- San Diego County
- San Jose
- San Mateo County
- Santa Clara County
Additional California Resources
- California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA)
- San Francisco Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association
- Southern California Coastal Water Research Project
- Heal the Bay (Santa Monica, California)