Permits for Domestic Discharges to Surface Water


Permits to discharge treated domestic waste (sewage) to surface water are handled by Permits Unit 2, which is managed by Michelle DeLaria:

General Permits

WQCD encourages applicants under 1 mgd to consider coverage under the two surface water domestic general permits (COG589000 and COG590000, formerly COG588000) because general permits pose a number of advantages for planning and timing:
  • General permit certifications can be issued far more quickly than individual permits, which may allow you to skip the PEL stage and use your permit as your Water Quality Planning Target.
  • Certifications under existing general permits may offer dischargers engaged in long-term planning more certainty than individual permits.
  • In many cases, general permit certifications can be modified after the general permit has been administratively extended (as long as the general permit itself does not need to be modified). Individual permits cannot be modified after the permit has been administratively extended.
  • General permit PELs can be completed more quickly than individual permit PELs.
  • General permit PEL and permit fees are lower.

Note that the two surface water general permits also provide for dilution in accordance with established tables in the permits. In addition, antidegradation limits will not be applied to permittees qualifying for coverage under the COG590000.

Qualifications for coverage under the General Permits

To qualify for a General Permit COG589000, the facility must be a minor domestic facility, and be approved under Regulation 22 for under 1 MGD.  The facility cannot have an industrial pretreatment program (either under Section 307 of the Clean Water Act or Regulation 63) and cannot accept any hazardous waste.  The facility must discharge to an unclassified, use-protected, or reviewable surface water body. The facility cannot discharge to a water designated as “Outstanding.” The facility may discharge to waters designated as threatened and endangered species habitat. Certification requirements for COG589000 are described in Part I.A.3. of the permit document below.

In order for the facility to qualify for a General Permit COG590000, the facility must meet all the requirements above for the COG589000 permit, AND the receiving stream must provide 100:1 dilution.  The dilution ratio is the 30E3 (chronic low flow) of the receiving stream (just above the outfall) to the facility design flow. In addition, the facility cannot discharge to waters designated as threatened and endangered species habitat. These certification requirements are described in Part I.A.3. of the permit document.

The COG590000 general permit has replaced the COG588000 general permit as of April 1, 2021. New facilities and conversions from an individual permit that qualify should apply under the COG590000 general permit. The division plans to renew existing facilities that are currently permitted under the COG588000 general permit under the new COG590000 general permit in 2021.

Links to Permit Documents and Applications

  • PREVIOUS Domestic wastewater treatment plant with chronic low-flow design ratio 100:1 (COG588000). Applications are no longer accepted for coverage under this permit.

Facility Planning and Site Approval

Other permitting forms 

  • Application for New or Renewal Individual Permit for Domestic System. Note you must file your renewal application at least 180 days before the permit’s expiration date if you would like your permit to be administratively extended.
  • Permitting forms webpage where you can find forms for modification requests, notices of transfer, withdrawal requests, application supplement forms, and requests for chemical evaluation

Sewage system compliance assistance and guidance