Legislative Mandated Reports
2017 Water Code Section 13385(0) Enforcement Report
This report meets the requirements in section 13385(o) of the California Water Code to continuously report and update enforcement information for the implementation of the Clean Water Act. This report includes a compilation of the number of violations of waste discharge requirements in the previous calendar year, a record of the formal and informal compliance and enforcement actions taken for each violation, and an analysis of the effectiveness of current enforcement policies, including mandatory minimum penalties.
California Water Code Section 13385(o)
The state board shall continuously report and update information on its Internet Web site, but at a minimum, annually on or before January 1, regarding its enforcement activities. The information shall include all of the following:
(1) A compilation of the number of violations of waste discharge requirements in the previous calendar year, including stormwater enforcement violations.
(2) A record of the formal and informal compliance and enforcement actions taken for each violation, including stormwater enforcement actions.
(3) An analysis of the effectiveness of current enforcement policies, including mandatory minimum penalties.
The Water Boards use the California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS) database to track information about places of environmental interest, manage permits and other orders, track inspections, and manage violations and enforcement activities. The Storm Water Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTS) database tracks similar information for the Storm Water Program. These two databases are used to compile the information in the 13385(o) report.Most of the tables in this report are available for continuous public use through the State Water Board’s Internet site. Public reports allow the public to access violation and enforcement data that is updated daily from all dischargers regulated by the Water Boards and gives the user control over how to sort and filter this data to meet specific information needs
Wastewater facilities discussed in this report are those facilities that are permitted to discharge pollutants to surface waters, and includes: sewage treatment plants, food processors, oil refineries, power plant cooling waters, pulp and paper mills, mining operations, and fish hatcheries. These facilities are regulated through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Storm water facilities in California are also regulated through NPDES permits and fall into three categories: construction, industrial, and municipal.
The number of wastewater facilities, 591, continued to decrease this year as dischargers continue to find alternatives to discharging to surface waters. There has been a 6.5% decrease in the number of facilities compared to 2016.
There are 11,281 construction facilities and 12,659 industrial facilities enrolled in the storm water permits in 2017. There has been a 10% increase in construction facilities and a 5% increase in industrial facilities compared to 2016.
This section summarizes the violations for the NPDES Wastewater and Storm Water Programs.
For wastewater facilities, 2017 saw the reversal of a decreasing trend of violations since 2011. From 2011 to 2016, the number of violations had decreased by over 50%. The 3,585 violations that occurred in 2017 is an 18.6% increase compared to 2016.
Storm water facilities have seen a consistent amount of violations since 2011. In 2017, there was 2,549 violations.
This section presents information on formal and informal compliance and enforcement actions taken for each violation. The Water Boards use progressive enforcement by addressing some violations with an informal response such as a phone call or staff enforcement letter, and if needed, a formal enforcement action based on statute. If violations continue, the enforcement response can be escalated to increasingly more formal and serious actions until compliance is achieved.
- Enforcement trends for NPDES wastewater facilities
- Enforcement trends for NPDES storm water facilities
The enforcement response for facilities regulated under the NPDES program is higher than other programs, in part due to requirements to impose mandatory minimum penalties for certain types of NPDES violations. Wastewater facilities have seen a relative increase in violations without enforcement. Part of this may be explained by the decrease in violations subject to mandatory penalties, which explains the decrease in violations receiving penalty actions. Furthermore, there can be a time gap before a violation is addressed with an enforcement action, particularly for penalty actions, which helps to explain the relative increase in unenforced violations.
The Storm Water program has a low percentage of unenforced violations with approximately 90% of the violations receiving an enforcement response.
Mandatory Minimum Penalties
This section provides an analysis of the effectiveness of Mandatory Minimum Penalties (MMPs). Mandatory penalty provisions are required by California Water Code section 13385(h) and (i) for specified violations of NPDES permits. For violations that are subject to mandatory minimum penalties, the Regional Board must either assess an ACL for the mandatory minimum penalty or assess an ACL for a greater amount. California Water Code Section 13885(h) requires that a mandatory minimum penalty of $3,000 be assessed by the Regional Board for each serious violation. A serious violation is any waste discharge that exceeds the effluent limitation for a Group I pollutant by 40 percent or more, or a Group II pollutant by 20 percent or more. California Water Code section 13885.1 also defines a serious violation subject to MMP a failure to submit a compliance self monitoring report for each complete period of 30 days.
The links above compile MMP violations and enforcement since the inception of the requirement in 2000. MMPs for late reports began in 2004 with the addition of California Water Code section 13385.1. The increase in reporting violations in 2006 was brought about by a change in the statute. Since that time, reporting violations have decreased with only 16 reporting violations subject to MMPs in 2017.
Similar to the increase of the total number of violations, the number of violations subject to MMPs increased in 2017 by 65%. The total number of violations subject to MMPs in 2017 was 1,428.