Code Section Group

Water Code - WAT

DIVISION 7. WATER QUALITY [13000 - 16104]

  ( Division 7 repealed and added by Stats. 1969, Ch. 482. )

CHAPTER 4. Regional Water Quality Control [13200 - 13286.9]

  ( Chapter 4 added by Stats. 1969, Ch. 482. )

ARTICLE 3. Regional Water Quality Control Plans [13240 - 13249]
  ( Heading of Article 3 amended by Stats. 1969, Ch. 800. )


Each regional board shall formulate and adopt water quality control plans for all areas within the region. Such plans shall conform to the policies set forth in Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 13000) of this division and any state policy for water quality control. During the process of formulating such plans the regional boards shall consult with and consider the recommendations of affected state and local agencies. Such plans shall be periodically reviewed and may be revised.

(Added by Stats. 1969, Ch. 482.)


Each regional board shall establish such water quality objectives in water quality control plans as in its judgment will ensure the reasonable protection of beneficial uses and the prevention of nuisance; however, it is recognized that it may be possible for the quality of water to be changed to some degree without unreasonably affecting beneficial uses. Factors to be considered by a regional board in establishing water quality objectives shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, all of the following:

(a) Past, present, and probable future beneficial uses of water.

(b) Environmental characteristics of the hydrographic unit under consideration, including the quality of water available thereto.

(c) Water quality conditions that could reasonably be achieved through the coordinated control of all factors which affect water quality in the area.

(d) Economic considerations.

(e) The need for developing housing within the region.

(f) The need to develop and use recycled water.

(Amended by Stats. 1991, Ch. 187, Sec. 2.)


The program of implementation for achieving water quality objectives shall include, but not be limited to:

(a) A description of the nature of actions which are necessary to achieve the objectives, including recommendations for appropriate action by any entity, public or private.

(b) A time schedule for the actions to be taken.

(c) A description of surveillance to be undertaken to determine compliance with objectives.

(Added by Stats. 1969, Ch. 482.)


A regional board, in a water quality control plan or in waste discharge requirements, may specify certain conditions or areas where the discharge of waste, or certain types of waste, will not be permitted.

(Added by Stats. 1969, Ch. 482.)


The regional boards shall not adopt any water quality control plan unless a public hearing is first held, after the giving of notice of such hearing by publication in the affected county or counties pursuant to Section 6061 of the Government Code. When the plan proposes to prohibit discharges of waste pursuant to Section 13243, similar notice shall be given by publication pursuant to Section 6061.3 of the Government Code.

(Added by Stats. 1969, Ch. 482.)


A water quality control plan, or a revision thereof adopted by a regional board, shall not become effective unless and until it is approved by the state board. The state board may approve such plan, or return it to the regional board for further consideration and resubmission to the state board. Upon resubmission the state board may either approve or, after a public hearing in the affected region, revise and approve such plan.

(Amended by Stats. 1971, Ch. 1288.)


Guidelines adopted by a regional board shall not become effective unless and until approved by the state board.

(Added by Stats. 1986, Ch. 758, Sec. 3.)


(a) The state board shall act upon any water quality control plan not later than 60 days from the date the regional board submitted the plan to the state board, or 90 days from the date of resubmission of the plan.

(b) When the state board is acting upon a water quality control plan that is being amended solely for an action related to a regional board’s total maximum daily load submittal, not including submittals related to listing, the state board shall not exceed the 60-day timeline, inclusive of the time spent sending the submittal back to the regional board, unless one of the following circumstances exists:

(1) The proposed amendment is for an exceedingly complex total maximum daily load. In order to determine if a total maximum daily load is exceedingly complex, the state board may consider a number of factors including, but not limited to, the volume of the record, the number of pollutants included, the number of dischargers and land uses involved, and the size of the watershed. The reason or reasons that any total maximum daily load is determined to be exceedingly complex shall be provided by the state board to the regional board in writing.

(2) The submittal by the regional board is clearly incomplete.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 20, Sec. 2. Effective April 8, 2002.)


State offices, departments, and boards, in carrying out activities which may affect water quality, shall comply with water quality control plans approved or adopted by the state board unless otherwise directed or authorized by statute, in which case they shall indicate to the regional boards in writing their authority for not complying with such plans.

(Amended by Stats. 1971, Ch. 1288.)


(a) At any time, the state board may, on its own motion, review the regional board’s failure to act under this article.

(b) The state board may find that the failure of the regional board to act was appropriate and proper. Upon finding that the failure of the regional board to act was inappropriate or improper, the state board may direct that appropriate action be taken by the regional board, refer the matter to another state agency having jurisdiction, take appropriate action itself, or take any combination of those actions. In taking any action, the state board is vested with all the powers of the regional boards under this division.

(Added by Stats. 2010, Ch. 288, Sec. 21. (SB 1169) Effective January 1, 2011.)


The state board may, on behalf of itself or a regional board, accept donations of moneys from a permittee for the purpose of updating a water quality control plan as consistent with the designated use of the funds.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 355, Sec. 1. (SB 1133) Effective January 1, 2019.)

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