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NPDES Municipal Permit

The 1987 amendment to the Clean Water Act required that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Stormwater permits for discharges from large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), which are systems serving a population of 250,000 or more.


An NPDES permit allows clean stormwater discharges into rivers, lakes or the ocean. The California State Water Resources Control Board (Los Angeles Region) issues NPDES permits in the Los Angeles area with the permit requiring a decrease in pollutants in stormwater and urban runoff.


The City of Los Angeles is in compliance with all requirements of the NPDES Municipal permit.


For more information on the City of LA's NPDES permit, please visit the Los Angeles Water Resources Control Board.





A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is the amount of a specific pollutant - such as trash, bacteria or pesticides - that is allowed in specific water bodies like rivers, creeks, lakes or the ocean. State and federal laws require the City of Los Angeles to comply with multiple TMDLs in all four of Los Angeles watersheds to protect the quality of our region’s water resources.


The Los Angeles Water Resources Control Board is responsible for establishing water quality standards in the Los Angeles area and these standards are described in the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Plan (or Basin Plan). The Water Resources Control Board places all bodies of water that do not meet water quality standards on a list of “impaired” waters and this list is re-evaluated every two years.




Once a body of water is declared impaired, the Los Angeles Water Resources Control Board determines the priority and schedule for the development of TMDLs, which includes the following key steps:  

  • Examine pollutant specific water quality issues
  • Identify the sources of pollution
  • Define how much of a pollutant a body of water can receive and still meet the water quality standards
  • Allocate pollutant loads ("total maximum daily loads") to each identified pollutant source
  • Develop implementation plans to achieve TMDL targets and compliance
  • Monitor and evaluate water quality to determine success


The City of Los Angeles, through a collaborative stakeholder process that includes community groups, environmental organizations and regulatory agencies, is committed to working on developing implementation plans that will improve Los Angeles water quality and ensure compliance with TMDL regulations.


You may also want to download the What are TMDLs? Fact Sheet for print ready information.



All construction activities that disturb one or more acres of soil, or whose projects disturb less than one acre but are part of a larger common plan of development that in total disturbs one or more acres, are required to obtain coverage under the General Permit for Discharges of Storm Water Associated with Construction Activity Construction General Permit Order 2009-0009-DWQ.


Most construction activities fall under these requirements and include soil disturbance, clearing, grading, stock piling or excavation. Regular maintenance activities performed to restore the original line, grade, or capacity of the facility are not included.


The Construction General Permit requires the development and implementation of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan, or SWPPP. The SWPPP should contain a site map(s) which show the following:

  • Construction site perimeter
  • Existing and proposed buildings, lots, roadways, storm water collection and discharge points
  • General topography both before and after construction
  • Drainage patterns across the project


The SWPPP must list Best Management Practices (BMPs) the discharger will use to protect storm water runoff and the placement of those BMPs. Additionally, the SWPPP must contain a visual monitoring program, a chemical monitoring program for "non-visible" pollutants to be implemented if there is a failure of BMPs, and a sediment monitoring plan if the site discharges directly to a water body listed on the 303(d) list for sediment.


If a single project traverses more than one Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) jurisdiction, a complete Notice of Intent package (Notice of Intent, site map, and fee) and Notice of Termination (upon completion of each section), must be filed for each RWQCB. For more information or to apply for a permit please visit the California Environmental Protection Agency’s State Water Resources Control Board.