Welcome to the State Water Resources Control Board Welcome to the California Environmental Protection Agency
Governor's Website Visit the Water Board Members Page
My Water Quality
Performance Report

State Water Board Logo

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


MESSAGE:  The composition of the enforcement response has changed overtime with a lower enforcement response to most recent violations. Most enforcement response is informal.



Violation Type 2000 2001 2003 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013




The enforcement response to violations varies by region and by the year the violation occurs. In some cases, violations received an enforcement action years after the date the violation occurs. Enforcement response is organized in 4 groups, violations receiving no enforcement has been between 13% and 65% in the years prior to 2013, and violations receiving the highest level of enforcement (a penalty or a compliance action) has been around 4%. The percentage of violations receiving only informal enforcement has fluctuated between 35% and 83%. There is also a significant variation by Regional Board with some regions addressing violations only at the informal level. Only 19 violations occurring in 2013 received a penalty or a compliance action (less than 0.4%).


The 2009 Water Quality Enforcement Policy guides staff in selecting the appropriate level of enforcement response that properly addresses violations and recommends the use of progressive enforcement. The policy describes progressive enforcement as “an escalating series of actions that allows for the efficient and effective use of enforcement resources.” Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, an informal enforcement action such as a warning letter to a violator, or a more formal enforcement action, including orders of the Boards requiring corrective action within a particular time frame, may be taken. In other instances, enforcement staff may use more informal tools, such as a phone call or a staff enforcement letter for compliance assistance. In the Water Quality Enforcement Policy appropriate enforcement response is related to the ranking and classification of violations grouped around enforcement cases. The priority enforcement cases are then identified and those with class I priority violations are targeted for formal enforcement action. Tracking violations and the enforcement response over time is necessary to assess the effectiveness of the Water Boards enforcement policies and actions.


  • Data Source: California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS). Extracted on September 22, 2014.
  • Unit of Measure: Violations documented. Violations linked to an enforcement action. Data are compiled on a calendar year basis.
  • Data Definitions: Violations with status "violation". Violations are not double counted and are grouped in 4 groups: Group 1: Violations not linked to an enforcement action with a status active or historical. Group 2: Violations linked to a penalty action with a status active or historical. Group 3: Violations linked to a compliance action with a status active or historical but not to a penalty action with a status of active or historical. Group 4: Violations linked to all other types of enforcement actions with a status of active or historical.
  • References: The Water Boards' NPDES Program
    Public Reports and Data
    Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Information
    The Water Boards' Enforcement Policy


Waste Discharge Requirements
The Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) - Waste Discharges to Land Program regulates all point source discharges of waste to land that do not require full containment (which falls under the Land Discharge Program), or are not subject to the NPDES Program.

Formal Enforcement
Formal enforcement actions are statutorily recognized actions to address a violation or threatened violation such as Cleanup and Abatement Orders.

Informal Enforcement
An informal enforcement action is any enforcement action taken by Water Board staff that is not defined in statute, such as staff letters and notices of violation.

Compliance Actions
Formal enforcement actions that directly require compliance using the authority established under Article 1 of Chapter 5 of the California Water Code such as Cease and Desist Orders, Cleanup and Abatement Orders and Time Schedule Orders.

Penalty Actions
Formal Actions that impose or settle a penalty or requires the completion of a project associated to a monetary amount.

All Other Enforcement Actions
All other formal and informal actions that communicates a violation or starts the procedures of an enforcement case or that requires additional information or starts an investigation.
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
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:  10/21/14 )