Regional Water Quality Control Plant

The mission of the Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) is to protect San Francisco Bay by cleaning and treating wastewater before it is discharged to San Francisco Bay.

Owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto, the Plant treats wastewater for the communities of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Stanford University and the East Palo Alto Sanitary District.

Regional Water Quality Control Plant
2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303


Explore the Regional Water Quality Control Plant

tour the regional water quality control plant

Tours are currently not offered due to COVID restrictions. Please email us to be contacted when tours are offered again.

Take a walking tour of the Regional Water Quality Control Plant and see how operators, scientists, engineers and educators work together to clean 20 million gallons of wastewater every day before it’s released to San Francisco Bay. To schedule a tour call 650-329-2396.


The RWQCP constructed and commissioned a new biosolids facility in 2019. The sewage sludge incinerators used since 1972 were formally decommissioned in 2019.

Biosolids Facility Plan Update – FINAL DRAFT

Biosolids Facility Plan – Final

Sludge Dewatering Facility Factsheet


The RWQCP is pursuing the construction of an additional outfall pipe to convey effluent (cleaned and treated wastewater) to San Francisco Bay. The new pipe would run adjacent to the existing outfall pipe which releases effluent near the Palo Alto Airport.

Construction efforts would also include maintenance for the existing 52-year old outfall pipe, and pump replacement for effluent discharged to nearby Renzel Marsh adjacent to East Bayshore Road. Together, these projects would ensure reliable transport of treated effluent under projected climate change and sea level rise scenarios. Both projects are recommendations of the Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP), completed in October 2012 and accepted by Council in July 2012 (Staff Report ID 2914).

Project documents:

City Council Staff Report (ID#7245): Design Services for WQCP Primary Outfall Line Design (October 17, 2016)

Regional Water Quality Control Plant New Outfall Project: Mitigated Negative Declaration

Notice of Intent (NOI) to Adopt a Draft Initial Study and Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration

Resolution No. 9630. Resolution of the Council of the City of Palo Alto Approving the financial Assistance Application to the State Water Resources Control Board for Capital Improvement Projects Applicable to the Regional Water Quality Control Plant


ELAP Cert # 1087
EPA Lab Code CA00179

The Laboratory’s primary function is to provide analytical services to the water quality control plant in compliance with Palo Alto’s  NPDES permit.  We provide additional services to the water transmissions department which includes analyzing Palo Alto’s potable water supply.  We are accredited by ELAP in the following fields of testing: volatile organic, inorganic, toxic elements and microbiology.  We follow a variety of methodology including 40 CFR part 136, Standard Methods and EPA in accordance with State and Federal Regulations for wastewater, sludge, and potable water.

Our  laboratory staff hold analyst certifications from CWEA including; three Grade IVs.  The lab consists of 3 lab technicians, 3 chemists, 1 senior chemist and 1 manager of laboratory services.

Primary instrumentation on site include: GCMS and ICPMS.


The City of Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) designed and constructed the freshwater Renzel Marsh Pond along East Bayshore Road in 1992. This project was a requirement of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which regulates the RWQCP, and provided a beneficial reuse for treated wastewater effluent. Today, Renzel Marsh Pond receives cleaned and treated wastewater effluent from the RWQCP that travels into Matadero Creek, the Palo Alto Flood Basin and then into San Francisco Bay.

What Happens After It’s Flushed


2018 RWQCP Annual Report

2018 Annual Recycled Water Report


NPDES Permit

Watershed Nutrient Order

Watershed Mercury and PCB Order

Recycled Water Board Order