San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board | March 20th, 2015
By law, the Water Board is required to develop, adopt (after public hearing), and implement a Basin Plan for the Region. The Basin Plan is the master policy document that
By law, the Water Board is required to develop, adopt (after public hearing), and implement a Basin Plan for the Region. The Basin Plan is the master policy document that contains descriptions of the legal, technical, and programmatic bases of water quality regulation in the
The plan must include:
• A statement of beneficial water uses that the Water Board will protect;
• The water quality objectives needed to protect the designated beneficial water uses; and
• The strategies and time schedules for achieving the water quality objectives.
The Water Board first adopted a plan for waters inland from the Golden Gate in 1968. After several revisions, the first comprehensive Basin Plan for the Region was adopted by the Water Board and approved by the State Water Board in April 1975. Subsequently, major revisions were adopted in 1982, 1986, 1992, 1995, 2002, and 2004. Each proposed amendment to the Basin Plan is subject to an extensive public review process. The Water Board must then adopt the amendment, which is then subject to approval by the State Water Board. In most cases, the Office of Administrative Law and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) must approve the amendment as well.
The basin planning process drives the Water Board's effort to manage water quality. The Basin Plan provides a definitive program of actions designed to preserve and enhance water quality and to protect beneficial uses in a manner that will result in maximum benefit to the people of California.
The Basin Plan fulfills the following needs:
• The U.S. EPA requires such a plan in order to allocate federal grants to cities and districts for construction of wastewater treatment facilities.
• The Basin Plan provides a basis for establishing priorities as to how both state and federal grants are disbursed for constructing and upgrading wastewater treatment facilities.
• The Basin Plan fulfills the requirements of the Porter-Cologne Act that call for water quality control plans in California.
• The Basin Plan, by defining the resources, services, and qualities of aquatic ecosystems to be maintained, provides a basis for the Water Board to establish or revise waste discharge requirements and for the State Water Board to establish or revise water rights permits.
• The Basin Plan establishes conditions (discharge prohibitions) that must be met at all times.
• The Basin Plan establishes or indicates water quality standards applicable to waters of the Region, as required by the federal Clean Water Act.
• The Basin Plan establishes water quality attainment strategies, including total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) required by the Clean Water Act, for pollutants and water bodies where water quality standards are not currently met.
The intent of this comprehensive planning effort is to provide positive and firm direction for future water quality control. However, adequate provision must be made for changing conditions and technology. The Water Board will review the Basin Plan at least once every three years. Unlike traditional plans, which often become obsolete within a few years after their preparation, the Basin Plan is updated as deemed necessary to maintain pace with technological, hydrological, political, and physical changes in the Region.
This Basin Plan contains water quality regulations adopted by the Water Board, and approved by the State Water Board, the Office of Administrative Law, and U.S. EPA. It also contains statewide regulations adopted by the State Water Board and other state agencies that refer to activities regulated by the Water Board. For the most recent list of statewide regulations applicable in the Region, please refer to the State Water Board’s Compendium of Current, Statewide Applicable Water Quality Regulations. Federal laws and regulations also specify water quality standards and are available at U.S. EPA’s website.
To check for amendments and other changes, please visit the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board's basin planning page.