Water Quality Protection at Composting Sites

California created the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) was created to preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water for the protection of the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses. In addition to the State Board, there are nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Boards), each responsible to develop and enforce water quality objectives and implementation plans that protect the state’s water while recognizing local differences in climate, topography, geology, and hydrology.

In 2015, the State Water Board adopted the General Waste Discharge Requirements for Composting Operations, often known as the General Order, to help ensure consistency in requirements for composting operations for the protection of groundwater. Regional Boards reserve the right to require more stringent safeguards than provided in the General Order, based on the particular circumstances of any facility, but may not require less. The overall goal of the General Order is to ensure that composting leachate and stormwater that contacts composting piles does not percolate into the ground.

Generally, composting facility operators must also prevent stormwater from entering or leaving their property. The Water Boards do not have the ability to waive requirements on discharges to surface waters subject to the federal Clean Water Act. For discharges to surface waters, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits may be required to address either stormwater or wastewater discharges.


For more information contact: Organic Materials, organics@calrecycle.ca.gov