Brownfields are underutilized properties where reuse is hindered by the actual or suspected presence of pollution. Cleanup and redevelopment of these sites benefits communities by removing the threats to human health and the environment, stimulating economic growth, and revitalizing neighborhoods. Urban infill brownfield redevelopment in neighborhoods with existing public infrastructure eliminates neighborhood blight and improves the community’s image and long term sustainability. Infill development also increases property values, creates a potential for increased jobs, adds to local tax revenues and improves public health.
Goals of the Water Board Brownfields Program
- Expedite and facilitate brownfields’ cleanups and closures by streamlining site assessment, remediation, monitoring, and closure requirements and procedures within the water boards’ cleanup programs
- Preserve open space and green fields
- Protect groundwater and surface water resources, safeguard public health, and promote environmental justice.
At the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board), site cleanup responsibilities for brownfields primarily reside within three main programs: the Underground Storage Tank Program, the Site Cleanup Program and the Department of Defense Program. These Water Board cleanup programs are charged with ensuring sites are remediated to protect, restore, and enhance California’s surface and groundwater, returning waters to their beneficial use
Lead Agency Oversight
In order to improve coordination of oversight activities at brownfields sites in California, California Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC), the State Water Board, and the Regional Water Boards agreed to a Brownfield Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The MOA limits oversight of a brownfields site to one agency, establishes procedures and guidelines for identifying the lead agency, calls for a single uniform site assessment procedure, requires all cleanups to address the requirements of the agencies, defines roles and responsibilities, provides for ample opportunity for public involvement, commits agencies to review timeframes, and commits agencies to coordinate and communicate on brownfields issues.
To request lead agency oversight, please refer to DTSC’s Brownfields Voluntary Cleanup Program:
- DTSC Brownfields – program home page
- DTSC Voluntary Cleanup Program – Established in 1993, the Voluntary Cleanup Program allows DTSC to provide oversight to motivated parties to address Brownfields sites.
- DTSC Brownfields Reuse Program
- USEPA Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program
- USEPA Pacific Southwest Region 9 Brownfields Program
Various grant and loan programs are available to help assess and/or clean up brownfields sites in California:
- State Water Board Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (USTCF)
- State Water Board Orphan Site Cleanup Fund (OSCF) Program
- California Pollution Control Financing Authority (CPCFA)
- DTSC Loans and Grants
- USEPA Grants Funding and Assistance Programs
- USEPA Grant Funding Guidance for State and Tribal Response Programs
For more information on potential funding sources for brownfields sites, refer to the Center for Creative Land Recycling’s (CCLR) funding list. CCLR offers technical assistance to communities under USEPA’s Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program.
The following links provide public information that is available.
- State Water Board Public Records Center
- Region 7 Public Records Center
- Data and Databases - listing and description of databases used by Water Boards
- GeoTracker GAMA - Groundwater Ambient Monitoring & Assessment Program Database [About GAMA]
- EnviroStor - DTSC database for sites that have known contamination or sites for which there may be reasons to investigate further [EnviroStor FAQ]
Questions or Comments
- State and Regional Water Boards Brownfields Program Contacts
- DTSC Brownfields Coordinators
- USEPA Pacific Southwest, Region 9 Brownfields Program Staff