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The California Water Boards' Annual Performance Report - Fiscal Year 2011-12


MESSAGE:  penalty actions issued in 2011.

MEASUREMENTS (Data last updated )

NPDES Stormwater Enforcement Actions for Year 2011 - Regional Board:

Enforcement Action Type 1 2 3 4 5F 5R 5S 6A 6B 7 8 9 Grand

NPDES Stormwater Industrial Enforcement Actions for Year 2011:

Enforcement Action Type 1 2 3 4 5F 5R 5S 6A 6B 7 8 9 Grand

NPDES Stormwater Construction Actions for Year 2011:

Enforcement Action Type 1 2 3 4 5F 5R 5S 6A 6B 7 8 9 Grand

NPDES Stormwater Municipal Enforcement Actions for Year 2011 - Regional Board:

Enforcement Action Type 1 2 3 4 5F 5R 5S 6A 6B 7 8 9 Grand




The tables list the number of enforcement actions taken by the Regional Water Boards in groups from informal to more formal during calendar year 2011. As expected, the Regional Boards use informal actions more often to notify dischargers that violations have been noted and recorded. The use of formal actions (compliance actions and penalty actions) in several regions is limited to the imposition of penalties. There is a significant variability in the number and types of enforcement actions issued overtime by Regional Water Board.


Enforcement plays a significant role in the Water Boards' strategies to protect water quality and represents a significant amount of work for both the State and Regional Boards. Enforcement deters potential violators and protects public health and the environment. The Water Boards use progressive enforcement by addressing some violations with an informal response such as a phone call or staff enforcement letter followed, if needed, with a more formal action. If violations continue, the enforcement response should be quickly escalated to increasingly more formal and serious actions until compliance is achieved. This measure displays the use of formal versus informal actions to address documented violations. The California Water Code has specific enforcement provisions for NPDES stormwater facilities and although most violations are for failure to submit annual reports or for failure to implement best management practices, the first level of response is an informal action notifying the discharger of the violations. The most significant violations received a higher level of enforcement that may include penalties and Cease and Desists Orders.


  • Data Source: CIWQS and SMARTS July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Extracted on July 30, 2012.
  • Unit of Measure: Number of enforcement actions with an effective date during Calendar Year 2011. Enforcement Actions issued for violations of the Construction Stormwater permit, the Industrial Stormwater permit and Municipal (MS4) permits.
  • Data Definitions: Informal Enforcement: any communication from that notifies the discharger of a problem (1 for reporting purposes it includes 13267 letters and notices to comply). Formal Enforcement: administrative or judicial actions that impose sanctions and/or require compliance where a hearing is available to contest the allegations (2 for reporting purposes it does not include Administrative Civil Liabilities (ACL) actions). Formal Penalty enforcement: includes Administrative Civil Liability actions and any other monetary assessment imposed.
  • References: The Water Boards' NPDES Stormwater program
    Public Reports and Data
    Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Information
    The Water Boards' Enforcement Policy


National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
The NPDES permit program (Section 402 of the Clean Water Act ) controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. US EPA has approved the Water Board's program to issue NPDES permits.
General Permit
An NPDES permit issued under 40 CFR 122.28 that authorizes a category of discharges within a geographical area. A general permit is not specifically tailored for an individual discharger.

Penalty Actions
Administrative or judicial enforcement actions that impose a penalty or requires the completion of a project associated to a monetary amount. Penalty actions include liabilities imposed with an Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) and settlement agreements pursuant to Government Code section 11415.60.

Compliance Actions
Administrative or judicial enforcement actions that impose sanctions and/or require compliance where a hearing is available to contest the allegations. Compliance actions typically uses authority established under Article 1 of Chapter 5 of the California Water Code.  Compliance Actions include Time Schedule Orders (TSO), Cease and Desist Orders (CDO) and Clean Up and Abatement Orders (CAO).

All Other Enforcement
Includes any communication or enforcement action taken by Water Board staff that is not defined in statute or regulation. For reporting purposes, it also includes Notices to Comply, Notices of Stormwater Noncompliance, and Technical Reports and Investigations required under section 13267 of the California water Code. It can include any form of communication (oral, written, or electronic) between Water Board staff and a discharger concerning an actual, threatened, or potential violation. The purpose of this actions is to quickly bring an actual, threatened, or potential violation to the discharger’s attention and to give the discharger an opportunity to return to compliance as soon as possible. from the Regional or State Water Boards that notifies the discharger of a problem or a violation. It is the first level of response.

Industrial Stormwater Actions
Discharges associated with 10 broad categories of industrial activities are regulated under the Industrial Storm Water General Permit Order 97-03-DWQ (General Industrial Permit), which is an NPDES permit.

Municipal Stormwater Phase I Facilities
The Municipal Storm Water Permits regulate storm water discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). Under Phase I, which began in 1990, the Regional Water Boards have issued NPDES MS4 permits to permittees serving populations greater than 100,000 people. Many of these permits are issued to a group of co-permittees encompassing an entire metropolitan area. These permits are reissued as the permits expire.

Municipal Stormwater Phase II Facilities
Under Phase II, the State Water Board adopted a General Permit for the Discharge of Storm Water from Small MS4s (WQ Order No. 2003-0005-DWQ) to provide permit coverage for smaller municipalities (10,000 to 100,000 people), including non-traditional small MS4s which are governmental facilities such as military bases, public campuses, prisons and hospital complexes.
Type of Enforcement Action Description Classification
Expedited Payment Offer A conditional offer that provides a discharger with an opportunity to resolve any outstanding violations subject to mandatory minimum penalties by acknowledging them and providing full payment of the accrued mandatory penalties identified in the payment letter Informal
Verbal Communication Any communication regarding the violation that takes place in person or by telephone. Informal
Staff Enforcement Letter Any written communication regarding violations and possible enforcement actions that is signed at the staff level. Informal
Notice of Violation A letter officially notifying a discharger of a violation and the possible enforcement actions, penalties, and liabilities that may result.  This letter is signed by the Executive Officer. Informal
Notice to Comply Issuance of a Notice to Comply per Water Code Section 13399. Formal
Notice to Comply Issuance of a Notice to Comply per Water Code Section 13399. Formal
13267 Order A letter utilizing Water Code Section 13267 authority to require further information or studies. Formal
Clean-up and Abatement Order Any order pursuant to Water Code Section 13304. Formal
Cease and Desist Order Any order pursuant to Water Codes Sections 13301-13303. Formal
Time Schedule Order Any order pursuant to Water Code Section 13300. Formal
Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) Complaint ACL Complaint issued by the Executive Officer. Formal
Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) Order An ACL Order that has been imposed by the Water Board or SWRCB. Formal
Settlement A settlement agreement per California Government Code Section 11415.6. Formal
Referral Referral to the District Attorney, Attorney General, or USEPA. Formal
Referred to a Task Force Any referral of a violation to an environmental crimes task force. Formal
Referral to Other Agency Any referral to another State Agency. Formal
Third Party Action An enforcement action taken by a non-governmental third party and to which the State or Water Board is a party. Formal
Waste Discharge Requirements Any modification or rescission of Waste Discharge Requirements in response to a violation. Formal



( Page last updated:  9/25/12 )