Storm Water Management at Commercial and Industrial Facilities

Stormwater discharge associated with specific categories of commercial and industrial facilities is regulated by the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) through an Industrial Stormwater General Permit (Industrial General Permit). The Industrial General Permit requires the following:

  • Elimination of unauthorized non-stormwater discharges
  • Preparation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) describing Best Management Practices (BMPs) that the facility will implement in order to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff
  • Implementation of specific monitoring and sampling activities
  • Submittal of annual reports to the SWRCB

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Does my Business Require Coverage under the Industrial General Permit?

YES, if your business has an SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code specified in the stormwater regulations. Refer to the SWRCB Industrial General Permit webpage to find out if your business is on the mandatory filing list.

YES, if your business falls into one of the following categories and is not exempted:

  • facilities subject to stormwater effluent limitations guidelines, new source performance standards, or toxic pollutant effluent standards found in 40 Code of Federal Regulators, Chapter 1, Subchapter N
  • manufacturing facility
  • mining/oil/gas facility
  • hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facility
  • landfills, land application sites, and open dumps
  • recycling facility
  • steam electric power generating facility
  • transportation facility (including water transportation)
  • sewage or wastewater treatment works

Exceptions to the Industrial General Permit Requirements:

  • Your business already has an individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit with stormwater provisions.
  • Your business discharges all stormwater into the San Francisco municipal combined sanitary sewer system (please contact Port staff to determine where on Port property such discharges occur).

2. Who do I contact if I'm still not sure?

As the applicant, you have the responsibility to determine if you are covered by the regulations and required to file for coverage under the Industrial General Permit. Contact the local RWQCB office staff for help in making your determination whether to file for a permit.

3. Where can I get help in complying?

The RWQCB will help you determine if you are covered and how to comply. Full permit forms are available on the SWRCB website. Other help and information from the state can be obtained from the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Filing Process and Permit Procedures

1. Submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) or No Exposure Certification (NEC) to the SWRCB for regulation under the Industrial General Permit if you own or operate and existing facility.

2. Work with RWQCB staff to eliminate unauthorized non-stormwater discharges that contain significant pollutants.

3. Develop and implement a SWPPP. A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) documents the use of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) at a business site. The SWPPP has two main objectives: identify pollutant sources and describe practices to reduce sediment and pollutants in stormwater discharges. BMPs include specified activities, prohibitions, maintenance procedures, and other management practices to prevent or reduce pollution in stormwater runoff. For example, installation of a dedicated vehicle wash area with treatment and plumbing to the sanitary sewer is a type of structural BMP.

NOTE: The SWPPP must be kept at the business site and provided upon request to RWQCB or Port of San Francisco staff.

4. Conduct water quality monitoring work. Monitoring is intended to demonstrate that BMPs are effective in reducing pollutant loadings in stormwater runoff. The main requirements are visual observations to verify control of illicit discharges, an annual site evaluation for compliance with the general permit, and a sampling and analysis program based on pollutants specific in the Industrial General Permit. Some businesses may be exempt from the sampling and analysis requirements if they meet specific requirements, mainly the elimination of exposure of any industrial activities to stormwater. Refer to the SWRCB Industrial General Permit webpage to see if you qualify.

Fees, Enforcement Provisions and Penalties

Facilities covered under the Industrial General Permit must pay an application fee to the SWRCB, and an annual fee every year thereafter. Failure to comply with requirements of the Industrial General Permit can result in daily civil fines  imposed by the RWQCB. In extreme cases, criminal penalties can also be pursued.