Permits

In 1987 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also referred to as the Clean Water Act, expanded the existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program[1] to begin regulating, among other things, discharges from storm drains owned and operated by municipalities.  In November 1990, USEPA published regulations that established application requirements for stormwater permits for municipal stormwater discharges. 

In California, the federal NPDES stormwater permit program is administered and enforced by the State Water Resources Control Board through the nine (9) Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Water Boards) by issuing Waste Discharge Requirements and NPDES permits (Permits).  These Permits are reissued approximately every five (5) years and also include applicable provisions of the state Portor-Cologne Act, which is the principal legislation for controlling stormwater pollutants in California.

The Contra Costa Clean Water Program (CCCWP) was established in 1991 in response to the federal stormwater regulations.   The CCCWP comprises Contra Costa County, its 19 cities/towns[2], and the Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (collectively referred to as Permittees).  Contra Costa  is within the jurisdiction of two Water Boards – San Francisco Bay Water Board and the Central Valley Water Board. 

The eastern portion of the County unincorporated area, and the cities of Antioch, Brentwood, and Oakley, are covered under a Permit issued by the Central Valley Water Board. The remaining Contra Costa municipalities are covered under a Permit issued by the San Francisco Bay Water Board.  These Permits are very similar. Each local jurisdiction must implement specified activities year-round. They must incorporate stormwater pollution prevention into municipal operations; inspect local businesses and construction sites; enforce prohibitions against non-stormwater discharges entering creeks or storm drains; perform specified public outreach activities; require new developments to manage runoff pollutants; reduce the quantity of trash, copper, mercury, and PCBs entering creeks and storm drains; and, monitor water quality, among other activities.

The CCCWP assists the municipalities to comply with the NPDES Permits by providing guidance and staff training and by implementing some public outreach and water-quality monitoring that can be done more cost-effectively at the countywide level.

[1] In 1972, provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act were amended so that discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States from any point source is effectively prohibited, unless the discharge is in compliance with a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. 

[2] Cities of Antioch, Clayton, Concord, El Cerrito, Hercules, Lafayette, Martinez, Oakley, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, San Pablo, San Ramon and Walnut Creek, and the towns of Danville and Moraga.

 

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