Industry Insights: California SB 205 FAQs

The Link Between Business Permits and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permits (NPDES)

Effective January 1, 2020, under California’s Senate Bill 205 (SB 205), every business seeking a new or renewed business license in California must prove one of three things:

  • It’s registered under the NPDES Industrial General Permit (IGP) for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities, 2014-0057-DWQ;
  • It holds an NPDES stormwater permit; or
  • It’s not required to have a stormwater permit.

This new requirement could delay or even prohibit the issuance or renewal of a business license (Link 1). Knowing the facts, however, can keep you covered.

What changed?

Does this affect me?

It will not affect all businesses. Only those with primary Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes that are identified in or are applicable to the IGP. There are over 800 SIC codes that fall into this category such as manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, mining, etc., so it’s essential to verify your SIC code for applicability.

SB 205 seeks to identify non-filers and unpermitted facilities by requiring cities and counties to verify IGP coverage before issuing a new or renewed business license. Facilities with an already existing IGP coverage, Notice of Non-Applicability (NONA), or a No Exposure Certification (NEC), do not require any action.

What if I don’t have existing IGP coverage?

This means your business will have to:

  • Evaluate each operating facility to determine your primary Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, which is based on the primary purpose of each business. (Link 3)
  • Determine if the SIC code is for a regulated industrial activity by referring to Attachment A of the IGP, or by consulting the list of regulated industrial SIC codes found on the State Water Board website at (Link 4).
  • If possible, obtain a NEC if your facility can demonstrate that all your industrial activity is occurring under cover and not exposed to rainfall or runoff. Or, obtain IGP coverage for each facility with a regulated SIC code(s).
Before SB 205 Today
Businesses were required to comply with the IGP issued by State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) or obtain a general permit for stormwater discharges under the federal Clean Water Act. That remains the same. However, with SB 205, California cities and counties which issue business licenses must confirm that anyone applying for a new business license or seeking to renew an existing one has either registered for coverage under the State’s stormwater regulations or is not required to register with the SWRCB. (Link 2)
This broad requirement often left businesses unsure if their stormwater was regulated or not. SB 205 seeks to identify non‑filers and unpermitted facilities for increased enforcement of stormwater regulations.

How can I prepare for compliance?

With SB 205, cities and counties may give businesses 90 days to comply. If you need IGP permit coverage due to SB 205, you should quickly retain a professional stormwater consultant to provide compliance assistance.You can qualify for up to 100% credit for additional activities.

If you need help, Apex is available to assist.

NOTE: A New Discharger (as defined in Attachment C of the IGP) applying for coverage under the IGP that will be discharging to an impaired water body with a 303(d) listed impairment are ineligible for coverage unless the Discharger submits data and/or information, prepared by a Qualified Industrial SWPPP Practitioner (QISP), demonstrating that the facility will not cause or contribute to the impairment. If the facility needs to enroll in the IGP, they will be considered a New Discharger and will need to seek the assistance of a QISP to demonstrate eligibility for coverage through preparing the data and/or information required in Section VII.B of the IGP. (Link 5)


Helpful Links:

  1. SB 205 Text:
  2. SWRCB Information regarding SB205:
  3. OSHA SIC Code Tool:
  4. SWRCB SIC Codes covered under the IGP:
  5. The IGP:

Apex Associated Press (Apex AP) represents contributions from various authors within the Apex professional community.


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