Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities. The 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibit the discharge of any pollutant to navigable waters from a point source unless the discharge is authorized by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. In 1987, the passage of the Water Quality Act established NPDES permit requirements for discharges of stormwater. The NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Section 402 (p) (2) of the federal Clean Water Act lists five types of stormwater discharges required to obtain a NPDES permit. Since 1990, operators of stormwater systems such as Orange County's have been required to:
Develop a stormwater management program designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being dumped or washed by stormwater runoff, into the stormwater system, then discharged into local waterbodies.
Obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.