National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

The City of Santa Ana is mandated to ensure that no pollution is allowed to enter into any drainage facility that the City owns or maintains by the Federal Program called NPDES.

What is NPDES and why does the City have to abide by it?

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program was established as a result of the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, subsequently known as the Clean Water Act. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant to navigable waters from a point source unless the discharge is authorized by an NPDES permit. In 1987, Congress passed a Clean Water Act Amendment, the Water Quality Act, which brought storm water discharges into the NPDES Program. Cities and counties are regulated through permits issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Since 1990, operators of large storm drain systems such as the City have been required to:

  • Develop a storm water management program designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being dumped or washed by storm water runoff, into the storm water system, then discharged into local waterbodies; and
  • Obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

The NPDES permit programs in California are administered by the State Water Resources Control Board and by nine regional boards that issue NPDES permits and enforce regulations within their respective regions. The City of Santa Ana lies within the jurisdiction of the Santa Ana Region. The regional board issues permits to the Orange County Permittees, which includes the County of Orange, Orange County Flood Control District and incorporated cities of Orange County. Since the program’s inception, the County of Orange has served as the principal permittee.

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