Los Angeles Region - Wildfires

Wildfires and other regional disasters are a source of pollutants that can adversely affect the quality of waters of the State. Recovery from wildfires ranges from the initial cleanup of burned debris to short and long term stabilization, erosion control, and other best management practices (BMPs) while the areas recover.

This webpage provides information to the public regarding points of contact, guidance, disaster relief funding and other information on issues related to water quality, clean-up and waste management in the wake of the Thomas, Rye, Creek and Skirball wildfires in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Agency Response to Fire Cleanup

The goals of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) in responding to the fires are the protection of human health, critical infrastructure (bridges, roads, culverts, and flood protection facilities), wildlife, and the natural environment, including our streams, waterways and the ocean. To meet these goals, the Regional Board has done the following:

  • Regional Board staff conducted visits to permitted facilities and sites within the burn perimeters of each fire to inspect and assess damage, to inform about best management practices to aid in returning facilities into compliance, and to provide information regarding emergency actions and funds for debris removal and waste disposal.
  • Regional Board staff coordinated with Ventura County on monitoring from their two mass emission stations. The County took samples per their Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit requirements, and collected additional samples for analysis by a Regional Board lab. Prior to developing the list of constituents, the Regional Board coordinated with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) and shared lists of the compounds that would be best to monitor for post-fire impacts.
  • AL FIRE and the California Geologic Survey (CGS) convened a Water Emergency Response Team (WERT) to assess the risks of landslides and flooding posed by fire-impacted zones throughout the Los Angeles and Ventura County Region. Regional Board staff are participated on the WERT team, and we are relying on their assessments to guide water quality protection efforts.
    Cal Fire has provided the links below to the WERT reports for the Thomas, Skirball and Rye Fires:
    Thomas Fire: http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/admin8327985/cdf/images/incidentfile1922_3383.pdf
    Skirball Fire: http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/pub/cdf/images/incidentfile1927_3371.pdf
    Rye Fire: http://www.fire.ca.gov/communications/downloads/Watershed_reports/2017_201811118_RyeFireWERT.pdf
    There are multiple streams and watershed lands in the areas affected by fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Given that our natural watersheds filter our drinking water and provide sensitive natural habitat, it is critically important that ash, debris, and other pollutants be prevented from entering stream systems to the maximum extent possible. Multiple local agencies are working together, independently, and in collaboration with CAL FIRE's WERT to assess and reduce the risk of flooding and to prevent fire-related debris, pollutants, and sediment from burned areas from being carried into our storm drains, creeks, rivers and the ocean:

There are multiple streams and watershed lands in the areas affected by fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Given that our natural watersheds filter our drinking water and provide sensitive natural habitat, it is critically important that ash, debris, and other pollutants be prevented from entering stream systems to the maximum extent possible. Multiple local agencies are working together, independently, and in collaboration with CAL FIRE's WERT to assess and reduce the risk of flooding and to prevent fire-related debris, pollutants, and sediment from burned areas from being carried into our storm drains, creeks, rivers and the ocean:

  • Agency partners include the Forestry Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BEAR), Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments, Ventura County Fire Department, Los Angeles City and County Departments of Public Works, Caltrans, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES), the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), California Resources Corporation, the Los Angeles County Resource Conservation District, the Ventura County Conservation District, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), local city emergency services, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, and Newhall Land and Farming Company.
  • A fact sheet with debris removal questions and answers developed by Cal OES and FEMA is available at wildfirerecovery.org- http://wildfirerecovery.org/debris-removal/ debris-removal-faqs/.
  • The Regional Board adopted a general conditional waiver of waste discharge requirements (WDRs) for Disaster Related Emergency Waste Handling and Disposal (Order No. R4-2017-0096 or General Waiver) on April 6, 2017, to pre-define and streamline Regional Board requirements for waste handling and disposal in the event of a large regional disaster. The General Waiver waives waste disposal permitting requirements for persons (including any city, county, district, landfill owner/operator, or other entity) discharging emergency wastes from cleanup of an emergency or disaster area ("Dischargers") to submit a Report of Waste Discharge (ROWD). The waiver allows the Regional Board to prescribe WDRs to help expedite emergency response activities, while establishing conditions on these waived requirements to protect surface and ground water quality.

The General Waiver is specific to disasters in which the Governor has proclaimed a State of Emergency or a state or local government agency and an Incident Commander working through the Statewide Incident Management System and the California Emergency Management Agency have declared an emergency. The General Waiver specifies conditions and reporting requirements for multiple categories of emergency/disaster related waste discharges, including discharges to existing waste management units at regulated facilities, temporary staging areas at regulated facilities, temporary staging areas not at regulated facilities, and temporary surface impoundments not at regulated facilities.

Discharges of disaster related wastes require that a notice of intent (NOI) be submitted to the Regional Board. Provided below is a link to the General Waiver, including the NOI form.

Order No. R4-2017-0096: General Waiver for Disaster Related Emergency Waste Handling and Disposal

  • The Ventura County Resources Conservation District received grant money for post-fire recovery erosion control materials: http://www.vcrcd.org/fire-recovery/. Funds are available to landowners outside of urban areas who have been affected by the fires, such as farmers, ranchers and equestrian facilities. This grant funding must be expended by March 31st. The last day to apply for erosion control materials is MARCH 19, 2018.
  • Cleanup and Abatement Account (CAA) funds are available for post-fire recovery. Qualifying projects up to $250,000 can be administratively approved. Projects over that amount have to be app-oved by the State Water Board. State Water Board staff need about a 6-week lead-time to get an item on the Board's agenda. There is not a grant cap or match requirement, but there are limited funds in the CAA. An applicant must be a public agency, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Federally Recognized Tribe, state agency, public college, or federal agency.

Here is the link to the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST): https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov/. The contact in the Division of Financial Assistance for the CAA funds is Kim Hanagan (916) 323-0624.

You may also contact:

Philip Dixon, Los Angeles District Conservationist: (661) 483-3136; Phillip.Dixon@ca.usda.gov
Dawn Afman, Ventura County Conservationist: (805) 984-2358 ext. 101;

The Regional Board staff will update this website with additional information as it becomes available.

Contact Information

Wen Yang – Senior Engineering Geologist
Land Disposal Unit (for issued related to the handling of solid wastes)
wen.yang@waterboards.ca.gov
(213) 620-2253

L.B. Nye – Senior Environmental Scientist
TMDL and Standards Unit (for issues related to the CWA Section 401 Regulations)
lb.nye@waterboards.ca.gov
(213) 576-6785

Hugh Marley – Supervising Engineering Geologist
Compliance and Enforcement Section (for issues related to the industrial and construction stormwater permits)
hugh.marley@waterboards.ca.gov
(213) 576-6375

Ivar Ridgeway – Senior Environmental Scientist
Stormwater Permitting Unit (for issues related to the MS4 stormwater permits)
Ivar.Ridgeway@waterboards.ca.gov
(213) 620-2150