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Performance Report

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The California Water Boards' Annual Performance Report - Fiscal Year 2013-14


MESSAGE:  Compared to FY 12-13 enforcement efforts, the regional boards issued 51% more penalty actions during FY 13-14. Most formal enforcement still focused on addressing mandatory minimum penalties.


MEASUREMENTS  - Data last updated on: 

Region Enforcement Actions
All Other
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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. Using information from other measures, a large number of penalty actions for the NPDES program addressed mandatory minimum penalties. Compared to the previous fiscal years of both formal and informal enforcement actions, the 159 penalty actions in FY 13-14 is higher than the number of penalty actions taken in the last two fiscal years (117 penalty actions in FY 11-12 and 105 in FY 12-13), but is still less than the 196 penalty actions taken FY 10-11. However, compared to the previous fiscal years, informal (all other actions) have significantly decreased, from 602 informal (all other actions) in FY 10-11, to 395 in FY 11-12 and 283 in FY 12-13, to 264 in FY 13-14.



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. Enforcement can prevent threatened pollution from occurring and can promote prompt cleanup and correction of existing pollution problems. 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.



  • Data Source: CIWQS Period: July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. Extracted on September 22, 2014.
  • Unit of Measure: Number of enforcement actions with an effective date during FY 13-14.
  • 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 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.

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 dischargerís 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.

( Page last updated:  10/3/14