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Performance Report

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


MESSAGE:  32% of violations received an enforcement action and 0% received a monetary penalty.


MEASUREMENTS  - Data last updated on: 

Region Violations
Receiving Penalty Actions Receiving Compliance Actions Receiving All Other Action Types Not Receiving Enforcement Grand Total
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Class I and Class II Priority Violations:

Region Violations
Receiving Penalty Actions Receiving Compliance Actions Receiving All Other Action Types Not Receiving Enforcement Grand Total
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Class III Priority or Priority Undetermined:

Region Violations
Receiving Penalty Actions Receiving Compliance Actions Receiving All Other Action Types Not Receiving Enforcement Grand Total
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The data shows that the level of enforcement response varies according to the ranking of the violations with violations at a highest rank (Class I priority violations and Class II priority violations) receiving typically an enforcement action. Approximately 68% of documented violations occurring in calendar year 2013 did not receive any type of enforcement. This percentage goes down to 53% for Class I and II priority violations, but reaches 73% for Class III priority and violations with priority undetermined. There is also a significant variation by Regional Board with some regions addressing violations only at the informal level. It is significant to highlight the low percentage of violations receiving penalty or compliance actions statewide.



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. Violation date in calendar year 2013.
  • 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' WDR NON15 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.

Class I Priority Violations
Class I priority violations are those violations that pose an immediate and substantial threat to water quality and that have the potential to cause significant detrimental impacts to human health or the environment. Violations involving recalcitrant parties who deliberately avoid compliance with water quality regulations and orders are also considered class I priority violations because they pose a serious threat to the integrity of the Water Boards’ regulatory programs.

Class II Priority Violations
Class II priority violations are those violations that pose a moderate, indirect, or cumulative threat to water quality and, therefore, have the potential to cause detrimental impacts on human health and the environment. Negligent or inadvertent noncompliance with water quality regulations that has the potential for causing or allowing the continuation of an unauthorized discharge or obscuring past violations is also a class II priority violation.

Class III Priority Violations
Class III priority violations are those violations that pose only a minor threat to water quality and have little or no known potential for causing a detrimental impact on human health and the environment. Class III priority violations include statutorily required liability for late reporting when such late filings do not result in causing an unauthorized discharge or allowing one to continue. Class III priority violations should only include violations by dischargers who are first time or infrequent violators and are not part of a pattern of chronic violations. Class III priority violations are all violations that are not class I priority or class II priority violations.

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.

Category 1 pollutant

Oxygen Demand
Biochemical Oxygen Demand
Chemical Oxygen Demands
Total Organic Carbon

Total Suspended Solids (Residues)
Total Dissolved Solids (Residues)

Inorganic Phosphorus Compounds
Inorganic Nitrogen Compounds

Detergents and Oils
Oil and Grease
Other detergents or algaecides

Calcium, Chloride, Fluoride, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Sulfur, Sulfate, Total Alkalinity, Total Hardness,
Other Minerals


Aluminum,  Cobalt, Iron, Vanadium

Category 2 pollutant – Category 2 pollutants as defined by USEPA:

Metals (all forms) - Other metals not specifically listed under Group I

Inorganics - Cyanide, Total Residual Chlorine

Organics - All organics are Group II except those specifically listed under Group I.
Other effluent violation – Any violation of an effluent requirement not cover under Category 1 or Category 2.
Chronic Toxicity – Violation of a chronic toxicity effluent requirement.
Acute Toxicity – Violation of an acute toxicity effluent requirement.
Violation of Non-effluent Permit Condition – Violation of any permit condition not pertaining to effluent requirements.
Reporting – Late report, failure to submit a report, or a report that is either not complete or contains errors.
Monitoring – Failure to conduct required monitoring
Compliance schedule – Failure to comply with a compliance schedule in a permit.  This does not include schedules in an enforcement order likes a Cease & Desist and Time Schedule Orders.
Sanitary Sewer Overflow – Any spill from a sanitary sewer collection system or pump station.
Unauthorized Discharge – Any discharge other than allowed by WDRs that is not a sanitary sewer overflow.
Unregulated Discharge – Discharge from a site not currently under WDRs.
Groundwater – Any release to groundwater that violates permit conditions or basin plan prohibitions.

BMP – Failure to implement proper best management practices.

SWPPP – Failure to complete or update a stormwater pollution prevention plan.

Failure to obtain permit – Failure to obtain the appropriate permit prior to discharge or regulated activity.

Other Codes – Violations of codes sections other that the California Water Code.
Enforcement Action – Failure to comply with a previous enforcement order by not meeting its requirements, its time schedule, or failure to pay penalties.
Basin Plan Prohibition – Violation of any basin plan prohibition.

( Page last updated:  10/21/14 )