Enforcement Program

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board enforces environmental laws to ensure protection of human health, water quality, and the environment. The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act gives the Water Boards the authority to implement and enforce water quality laws, regulations, policies, and plans to protect groundwater and surface waters of the State. Timely and consistent enforcement of these laws is essential to the success of the Water Board programs in protecting all beneficial uses of California's water and to ensure the people of the State have safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.

Click here to see the Central Coast Water Board’s Enforcement Program’s Primary Responsibilities.

Compliance with regulations is critical in protecting public health and the environment. It is the preference of the Water Board that the most effective and timely methods are used to assure that the regulated community achieves and maintains compliance. Tools such as providing assistance, training, guidance, and incentives are commonly used by the Water Board and work very well in many situations. However, there is a point at which this cooperative approach no longer works and staff begins progressive enforcement, which contemplates an escalating series of actions beginning with notification of violations and compliance assistance, followed by increasingly severe consequences, culminating in a complaint for civil liabilities or other formal enforcement. The Water Board follows the State Water Board Water Quality Enforcement Policy for developing fair, firm, consistent, and transparent enforcement

Central Coast Water Board Enforcement Priorities

  1. Address high priority violations that pose an immediate and significant threat to water quality, or that have detrimental impacts to human health and/or the environment.
  2. Prioritize violations that involve a discharge or threatened discharge that impact drinking water sources in disadvantaged communities or communities with financial hardship.
  3. Require replacement water for individuals whose drinking water supply is polluted by nitrate or other contaminants above drinking water standards with a focus on those individuals in disadvantaged communities.
  4. Address violations involving falsification of information and non-compliant dischargers that realize a competitive economic advantage over compliant members of the regulated public.

Current Enforcement Actions

Expedited Payment Program - The Central Coast Water Board Enforcement Unit has issued a conditional offer to participate in the Central Coast Water Board’s Expedited Payment Program for the following bulleted parties to settle violations subject to mandatory minimum penalties pursuant to California Water Code sections 13385(h) and (i), and sections 13399.33(c) and (d). The listed recipients have agreed to pay the penalties proposed by the Assistant Executive Officer, pending public comment and subject to approval by the Central Coast Water Board or its Executive Officer.

  • Merced Hospitality, Inc. – Lexington Inn & Suites Expedited Payment Program Offer (Offer) - Per the conditions described in the Central Coast Water Board Enforcement Unit’s April 12, 2019 Offer, Merced Hospitality, Inc. (Discharger) signed the Acceptance of Conditional Settlement Offer and Waiver of Right to a Hearing, Settlement Agreement and Stipulation for Entry of Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) Order No. R3-2018-0025 (Upon Execution) (Acceptance and Waiver), hereby published on June 20, 2019, for public comment through July 22, 2019.  The Offer proposes to resolve liability for $11,990 in response to alleged violations of the State Water Resources Control Board’s General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction and Land Disturbance Activities, Order No. 2009-0009 DWQ NPDES No. CAS000002 (Construction General Permit).  The alleged violations occurred on or around March 23, 2018, resulting in the unauthorized discharge of stormwater polluted with sediment to Carbonera Creek from the Discharger’s construction site located at 5030 Scotts Valley Drive in Scotts Valley, CA.  The Discharger submitted a check for $11,990 to be deposited into the State Water Board Cleanup and Abatement Account, which provides grants to clean up pollution in cases where no viable responsible party is available, or for habitat restoration, studies, monitoring, and planning activities.  If comments or information received during this public comment period do not reasonably affect the proposed settlement, the Assistant Executive Officer will present the Order to the Central Coast Water Board or its Executive Officer for adoption. The public may submit written comments to: Central Coast Water Board, Attn: Thea Tryon, 895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, or may email comments to Thea.Tryon@waterboards.ca.gov.

Greka Oil & Gas, Inc. - On May 13, 2010, the Central Coast Water Board adopted Stipulated Administrative Civil Liability Order No. R3-2010-0034 imposing a $1.2 million penalty on Greka to settle allegations that Greka violated cleanup requirements applying to petroleum-impacted waste materials stored throughout its facilities in Santa Barbara County. The Water Board issued a news release on May 19, 2010.

Greka Oil & Gas, Inc. - July 10, 2009 Resolution No. R3-2009-0054 requesting that the Attorney General seek civil enforcement against Greka for alleged waste discharges (e.g., crude oil, produced water, residuary products of petroleum) to state and federal waters.

Water Quality Enforcement Policy

Please visit the State Water Resources Control Board's Water Quality Enforcement Policy website for information about the Policy. There you can view and download the 2017 Water Quality Enforcement Policy (effective October 5, 2017) and the associated 2017 Penalty Methodology Spreadsheet. The 2017 Enforcement Policy will apply to violations that occur from October 5, 2017 onward.

Enforcement Program staff will apply the 2009 Enforcement Policy to violations that occurred before October 5, 2017.  The Application of the 2009 and 2017 Enforcement Policies memo describes how the state and regional boards intend to apply each version of the Policy for violations that occurred before and after the October 5, 2017 date.

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)

2017 SEP Policy

The State Water Board adopted Resolution 2017-0074, which amends to the Policy on Supplemental Environmental Projects, on December 5, 2017. The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the regulatory action on May 3, 2018 and the amended policy became effective on that date.

Introduction

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) are environmentally beneficial projects that a settling party agrees to undertake in the settlement of an action to offset a portion of a civil penalty. The Central Coast Water Board supports the inclusion of SEPs in the settlement of an enforcement action, so long as these projects align with the Central Coast Water Board’s regional priorities and meet the criteria specified in the SEP Policy to ensure the projects have environmental value, further the enforcement goals and other important policies of the Water Boards, and are subject to appropriate input and oversight by the Central Coast Water Board.

Submitting Project Proposals

The Central Coast Water Board will consider proposals for potential SEPs and may make them available to settling parties.   Any public or private party that (a) can receive and distribute funds and (b) has the ability to complete the work, may submit a SEP proposal provided the project meets the criteria specified in the SEP Policy and it is aligned with Central Coast Water Board regional priorities. The Central Coast Water Board will only consider SEP proposals that meet the following regional priorities.  The priority criteria are:

  1. Implements the human right to water and Resolution R3-2017-0004;
  2. Provides water quality benefits to disadvantaged communities in the Central Coast Region;
  3. Implements regional climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation strategies;
  4. Implements local water quality monitoring and assessment projects for issues of regional significance;
  5. Supports development and implementation of water quality focused sustainability activities and related projects in regional groundwater sustainability plans.

Please include a cover letter with your SEP proposal that describes how the SEP proposal implements the Central Coast Water Board’s regional priority criteria. You should also go to the Office of Enforcement’s SEP website and review the Supplemental Environmental Projects FAQ document before writing your proposal. Proposals should be submitted using the Water Board SEP Proposal Form.

The Central Coast Water Board considers new proposals on a continuous basis and updates the list of potential SEPs periodically, however, the current list of potential SEP projects is currently under construction. Submittal of an acceptable SEP meeting the above stated criteria does not guarantee it will be added to the list or be selected by a settling party for implementation. The Central Coast Water Board plans to evaluate and respond to SEPs proposed for inclusion on the SEP list within its jurisdiction on an annual basis. For any SEP that requires oversight by the Central Coast Water Board, the full costs of such oversight must be paid for by the settling party. Based on its resource constraints, the Central Coast Water Board may require the settling party to select and hire an independent management company or other appropriate third party, which reports solely to the Central Coast Water Board, to oversee implementation of the SEP in lieu of oversight by Central Coast Water Board staff. If no arrangement for the payment for necessary oversight can be made, the SEP will not be approved, absent exceptional circumstances.

The Central Coast Water Board may limit the number or size of potential SEP projects available to settling parties or coordinate with settling parties and SEP implementing parties to combine funds from multiple settlements for the implementation of a SEP as needed to effectively administer oversight of SEPs during any given year based on staffing resources.

Authorized Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP), Enhanced Compliance Actions (ECA), and Compliance Projects (CP) - Penalty Project Report

The Penalty Project Report allows the public to search for a list of enforcement actions associated with a SEP, ECA, and/or a CP, by specifying search criteria to obtain information on projects, including the monetary amount and status.  Please use this glossary to obtain definitions of the program acronyms listed on the search criteria page.

The State Water Board's Office of Enforcement Supplemental Environmental Project website provides information about the current 2017 SEP Policy, submitting project proposals, active SEPs, and completed SEPs.

Administrative Civil Liabilities

The Fact Sheet describes the process that Water Boards follow in imposing administrative civil liabilities.

Water Code Sections 13225(k) and 13323(e) Quarterly Enforcement Reports

The Regional Water Boards are posting, on a quarterly interval, information related to all enforcement activities that are recorded in their data system. In addition, for administrative civil liability actions, they are providing information related to the initial assessment of the civil liability, the final assessment of civil liability and whether a hearing was waived. The following reports provide this information for the previous three years.

In addition to the summary information provided by these quarterly reports, access to enforcement information on a real-time basis is available to the public. This information can be accessed from the California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS) Public Reports page on the State Water Resources Control Board's Internet website.

Regular Water Board Agenda Enforcement Reports

To view Enforcement Reports provided in the Central Coast Water Board's regular agendas, please go to the Board Meetings web page, select the year of interest and then the meeting agenda. Once viewing the agenda, select the item titled Enforcement Report.