Special Discharge Permit

What is the Permit?

Special Discharge Permits define the conditions that businesses must follow to discharge contaminated or large amounts of water to the City’s sewer system.  These conditions include the discharge source, discharge location, discharge volume, discharge concentration limits, and the proposed treatment.  These permits include reporting requirements for chemical analyses and flow to ensure that the discharged water meets the City’s local limits.

Who Needs this Permit?

Businesses need to obtain this permit before discharging contaminated water or large amounts of non-contaminated water into the City of Petaluma’s sewer system.

Special Discharge Permits are most appropriate for short term discharge that totals one year or less. This permit is need for construction projects that involve:

  • Groundwater Remediation
  • Hydrotest water
  • Excavation de-watering


The City closely monitors the amount of flow and the type of wastewater pretreatment from certain businesses to prevent overloading of the collections system and the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility.  Special Discharge Permits help to establish discharge parameters for businesses planning construction, remediation, and infrastructure inspection.

Timing and Cost

There is a one-time $200 processing fee for Special Discharge Permit applications.  During the period of discharge the permit holder will be assessed a loading fee quarterly based on the number of gallons discharged.  All sites proposed to discharge water to the City’s sanitary sewer need to apply for a Special Discharge Permit 60 days before planning to discharge to the sanitary sewer. Once a permit application is accepted by the City, the permit is valid for one year. All permit extensions need to be submitted to the Environmental Services Division 90 days before the expiration of the permit.


Once a business establishes that a Special Discharge Permit is required, a Special Discharge Permit application must be submitted. Details specific to the planned discharge(s) are mandatory as part of the application.

Contact an Environmental Services Technician at (707) 776-3777 to identify whether a permit is needed and how to apply. Once the application is complete, mail the permit application and processing fee to the Environmental Services Division at:

Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility
Attn: Environmental Compliance
3890 Cypress Drive
Petaluma, CA 94954


To confirm whether you'll need this permit for your business and/or construction projects, please contact an Environmental Services Technician by email or tel: (707) 776-3777.

photo of ellis creek recycling facility

Special Discharge permits are typically needed for short-duration projects or business activities that involve discharging any amount of contaminated water or a large amount of non-contaminated water into the City's sewer system.

- Patrick Pulis, Environmental Services

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