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Stormwater Regulations/Discharge Permits


Federal Regulations

In 1972, the Federal Clean Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) was amended to prohibit the discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States from any point source, unless the discharge is in compliance with a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. A NPDES Permit regulates discharges to receiving waters such as oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and bays. 

In 1987, a Clean Water Act amendment prohibited non-stormwater water discharges into storm drains and required that owners and operators of storm drain systems secure a NPDES Permit.  As a result, certain businesses must also obtain a NPDES Permit.  

State and Regional Regulations

The 1969 California Porter-Cologne Act established the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards in California. The City of Commerce is under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board). 

In 1972 the “Basin Plan” was established by the State Board to implement the Clean Water Act amendment prohibiting point source discharges.  Each of the nine Regional Boards is responsible for writing and adopting a Basin plan for their Region.  The Basin Plan is the main source for many regional water regulations and is the foundation for Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). The City of Commerce is held responsible for water quality standards under a NPDES Permit and TMDLs for trash, metals, nutrients, bacteria, and organics.


Do I need a NPDES Permit?

Any entity discharging pollutants from a point source into a Water of the United States needs a NPDES permit. This includes many businesses in the sectors listed below:

  • wholesale trade/recycling
  • auto repair/parking
  • motor freight
  • chemical/allied products
  • auto dealers/gas stations
  • food service facilities/restaurants
  • primary metals products
  • fabricated metal products
  • hazardous waste treatment
  • landfills/open dumps
  • manufacturing
  • transportation
  • steam electric power generation facilities
  • construction sites subject to a Construction General Permit
  • facilities subject to a General Industrial Stormwater Permit (based on SIC code) 

For more information concerning NPDES permitting, please contact the California State Water Resources Control Board at (916) 341-5538 or visit:

The City of Commerce is responsible for Complying with the
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) NPDES permit. See City Stormwater Program for more information.



Agencies with oversight authority to enforce the stormwater permits include the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California State Water Resources Control Board, and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Failure to obtain a permit could result in penalties up to $37,500 per day per violation and jail time.