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The California Water Boards' Annual Performance Report - Fiscal Year 2012-13

ENFORCE: NPDES WASTEWATER

GROUP:  ALL NPDES WASTEWATER FACILITIES
MEASURE:  VIOLATIONS SUBJECT TO MANDATORY MINIMUM PENALTIES ADDRESSED AND PENDING ACTION, 2000-2013
MESSAGE:  Only percent of documented MMP violations pending mandatory enforcement response.
KEY STATISTICS FOR 2000-2013

 

MEASUREMENTS  - Data last updated on: 

Regional
Board
MMPs Addressed
with Administrative
Civil Liability (1)
MMPs Resolved
with Court
Order
MMPs Addressed
with Expedited
Payment Offer (2)
Violations without
Completed MMP
Enforcement
% Without Total

WHAT THE MEASURE IS SHOWING

The data show the number of violations subject mandatory minimum penalties that are addressed and the method of addressing the violations. The large majority of violations are being addressed with Administrative Civil Liability Actions. It is also significant the percentage of violations addressed with a court order in R4. The violations in the process of being addressed with an expedited payment offer also represent a significant percentage of all addressed violations. Once settled the offer the violations would be recorded as addressed with an ACL. Only 9% of documented violations subject to MMPs remain pending to be addressed. The data also shows those violations by year that the violation occurred that are still pending to receive the mandatory minimum penalty. The Water Quality Enforcement Policy states that “The Water Boards should issue MMPs within eighteen months of the time that the violations qualify as mandatory minimum penalty violations.


WHY THIS MEASURE IS IMPORTANT

On January 1, 2000, new legislation (Senate Bill 709) required that certain permit violations under the Water Code be subject to mandatory minimum penalties (MMP). Mandatory penalty provisions are required by California Water Code section 13385(h) and (i) for specified violations of NPDES permits.  For violations that are subject to those mandatory minimum penalties, the RWQCB must either assess an ACL for the mandatory minimum penalty or assess an ACL for a greater amount.  California Water Code section 13385(h) requires that a mandatory minimum penalty of $3,000 be assessed by the RWQCB for each serious violation.  The RWQCB is also required by California Water Code section 13385(i) to assess mandatory minimum penalties of $3,000 per non-serious violation, not counting the first three violations. Identification and documentation of violations is important to ensure that water quality is protected and that serious violations and those high priority violations receive an adequate enforcement response. Tracking violations and compliance rates over time is necessary to assess the effectiveness of the Water Boards enforcement policies and actions. For every enforcement action taken, the discharger’s return to compliance should be tracked in the Water Board’s enforcement database.


TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS


GLOSSARY

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.

Mandatory Minimum Penalty (MMP)
Mandatory penalty provisions are required by California Water Code section 13385(h) and (i) for specified violations of NPDES permits. For violations that are subject to mandatory minimum penalties, the Regional Board must either assess an ACL for the mandatory minimum penalty or assess an ACL for a greater amount. California Water Code section 13385(h) requires that a mandatory minimum penalty of $3,000 be assessed by the Regional Board for each serious violation.

Serious Violation Subject to Mandatory Minimum Penalty (MMP)
A serious violation is any waste discharge that exceeds the effluent limitation for a Group I pollutant (priority pollutants) by 40 percent or more, or a Group II pollutant (toxic pollutants) by 20 percent or more. California Water Code section 13385.1 also defines a serious violation subject to MMP a failure to submit a compliance self-monitoring report for each complete period of 30 days.

Chronic Violation Subject to Mandatory Minimum Penalty (MMP)
A Chronic violation subject to mandatory minimum penalty of $3,000 is any waste discharge that exceeds effluent limitations four or more times in any period of six consecutive months. (see California Water Code section 13385(i)).

Mandatory Minimum Penalty (MMP) Report
This report displays violations that require assessment of “Mandatory Minimum Penalties.” Water Code sections 13385(h) and (i) and 13385.1(a) require minimum penalties if discharges to waters of the U.S. violate certain types of permit limits. For more information about MMPs, see page 28 of the Enforcement Policy. For more information about the report and how to navigate, we have developed a Fact Sheet.

Administrative Civil Liability Action (ACL)
California Water Code sections 13323-13327 describe the process to be used to assess Administrative Civil Liabilities. Liabilities are an important part of the Water Boards, enforcement authority.

Court Order
The RWQCB or SWRCB can refer violations to the state Attorney General for civil enforcement actions. The RWQCB or SWRCB can also request the appropriate county District Attorney or City Attorney seek criminal prosecution. A superior court may be requested to impose civil or criminal penalties.

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.

Addressing Mandatory Minimum Penalty Violations
Section VII of the Water Quality Enforcement Policy describes the process necessary to ensure that violations subject to mandatory minimum penalties are properly addressed. An MMP violation is considered addressed or in the process of being addressed once the enforcement procedures have been initiated.

( Page last updated:  10/3/13