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Water Quality Petitions


Any person who is aggrieved by an action, or a failure to act, by a Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) may be able to file a petition for review with the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). This question and answer document provides information on filing petitions. Attached to this document are the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions regarding filing and review of petitions. (See Water Code section 13320; Title 23, California Code of Regulations (CCR) sections 2050-2068.)

What actions and failures to act are subject to review?

The Regional Water Board must have acted, or failed to act, in matters involving waste discharge requirements, technical report requests, and waivers (Water Code section 13260 and following); enforcement actions (Water Code section 13300 and following; section 13399.25 and following); national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits (Water Code section 13370 and following); water reclamation (Water Code section 13500 and following); or requests for technical reports from public agencies (Water Code section 13225(c)).

Are actions of the Executive Officer subject to review?

Regional Water Boards take most actions subject to review at public meetings. Executive Officers are authorized to take some actions subject to review. Most of these actions are issuance of cleanup and abatement orders and technical report requests. If an Executive Officer takes the action, it may not be accompanied by a public meeting.

What are the deadlines for filing a petition?

Petitions must be received by the State Water Board within 30 days of the action or failure to act. An action occurs when a Regional Water Board votes for the action or, in the case of actions by the Executive Officer, when the Executive Officer mails or serves a copy of the action. For petitions for review of a failure to act, the 30-day period commences when the Regional Water Board refuses to act, or 60 days after the request was made, whichever occurs sooner. If the 30th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or state holiday, the petition is due the following business day.

Where should petitions be sent?

In Person: By Mail:

State Water Resources Control Board
Office of Chief Counsel
Adrianna M. Crowl
1001 "I" Street, 22nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

State Water Resources Control Board
Office of Chief Counsel
Adrianna M. Crowl
P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812-0100
By Fax: By eMail:
(916) 341-5199 waterqualitypetitions@waterboards.ca.gov

If you have any questions not covered by this question and answer document, please call Adrianna Crowl directly at (916) 341-5156.

Petitions may be mailed, faxed, filed in person, or emailed. If the petition is emailed, request a receipt to ensure it is timely received. Regardless of the manner of transmission, email is preferred. It is requested that a copy of the petition be sent via e-mail. Exhibits should not be sent by facsimile, but via hard copy or email.

Petitioners should send only ONE paper copy. There is NO filing fee.

What must be included in the petition?

  1. Name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if available) of the petitioner.
  2. The action or inaction of the Regional Water Board being petitioned, including a copy of the action being challenged or any refusal to act, if available.  If a copy of the regional board action is not available, the petitioner must explain why it is not included.
  3. The date the Regional Water Board acted, refused to act, or was requested to act.
  4. A statement of the reasons the action or inaction was inappropriate or improper.
  5. How the petitioner is aggrieved.
  6. The action the petitioner requests the State Water Board to take.
  7. A statement of points and authorities for any legal issues raised in the petition, including citations to documents or hearing transcripts that are referred to.
  8. A statement that copies of the petition have been sent to the Regional Water Board and to the discharger, if different from the petitioner.
  9. A statement that the issues raised in the petition were presented to the regional board before the regional board acted, or an explanation of why the petitioner could not raise those objections before the regional board.

How can a petitioner request a hearing or introduce new evidence before the State Water Board?

Most petitions are resolved without an evidentiary hearing. Before adopting an order regarding a petition, the State Water Board will generally hold a workshop meeting to discuss the draft order. To request an evidentiary hearing, the petition must include a summary of arguments the petitioner wishes to make at the hearing and testimony or evidence the petitioner wishes to introduce. The petition must include a full explanation why these arguments have not previously been adequately presented. A request for a hearing must be included with the petition or submitted as soon as possible after the petition is filed.

If the petitioner wants to introduce new evidence, the petition must explain why the evidence or arguments were not presented to the regional board. The petitioner must fully explain any claim that the Regional Water Board improperly excluded evidence.

How can a petitioner request a stay of the effect of an action?

Filing a petition does not automatically stay the effect of an action of a Regional Water Board. (For orders imposing administrative civil liability, the time for payment is extended while the petition is being considered by the State Water Board).
See instructions for filing a stay request.

Can a petitioner file a petition as a protective filing?

Petitioners may wish to file a petition within the deadline stated above, but plan to attempt to comply with the Regional Water Board’s order, or for other reasons do not seek active review of the petition. Such petitions may be “held in abeyance” by the State Water Board, generally for up to two years. The petition may include a request that the petition be held in abeyance. If there are objections from the Regional Water Board or other interested persons, the State Water Board may proceed with review of the petition.