North Coast Board Issues General Waste Discharge Requirements for Dairies

By on August 22, 2019

Last week, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Board) issued General Waste Discharge Requirements for Dairies (GWDR) in the North Coast Region that ensures that activities on dairy properties are protective of both surface and groundwater quality.

The GWDR covers the management of process water, manure and other organic materials at dairies, including the application of such materials to land. It also covers the discharge of wastes and water quality impacts from owned or leased dairy cattle grazing lands, dairy croplands and dairy cattle raising lands that have the potential to discharge wastes to surface waters and groundwater.

The GWDR replaces 2012 permit coverage for about 120 existing cow dairies and adds provisions for regulation of goat, sheep, and water buffalo dairies. The permit will also cover new, expanding, and previously inactive dairies.

New additions to the GWDR include:

  • Expansion of surface water and groundwater monitoring parameters, requirements, and timing of sampling;
  • Required Nutrient Management Plan for all dairies with manure or other fertilizer application to land, or for dairies which graze for more than 30 days annually;
  • Required Riparian Area Management Plan to enhance protection of streams and watercourses from grazing impacts;
  • Required Tribal Cultural Resource protections pursuant to Assembly Bill 52 (Gatto 2015);
  • New dairies, expanding dairies, and reopening of previously inactive dairies must meet the requirements of the GWDR and the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration prior to permit coverage.

Plans and reports are to be submitted to the Board annually. For more information on the order visit