San Diego Region - Enforcement


What We Do ...

We serve to ensure compliance with State and Federal laws, regulations, policies, plans and permits in an effort to preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California' s water resources. Potential formal enforcement actions are identified within Regional Board program/units for review by the Compliance Oversight Group (COG). The COG will prioritize and select violations for formal enforcement by the Compliance Assurance Team. The team will also regionally administer CIWQS (California Integrated Water Quality System) and sanitary sewer overflow databases, attend Compliance and Assurance Roundtable meetings, and provide in-house enforcement training.

Why We Do It ...

Obtaining and ensuring compliance is the fundamental manner in which we meet the state's water quality objectives. Focusing our efforts on formal enforcement actions allows us to take action where we were previously unable. This in turn frees up technical staff to provide compliance assistance to dischargers, such as updating outdated permits to conform to changing laws, technology; to review monitoring reports to determine water quality conditions; and to conduct more inspections, find and confirm that minor violations have been corrected.

How We Do It ...

A focused enforcement effort allows us to produce timely, evenhanded and consistent enforcement actions. Consistent and publicized enforcement actions send a strong message to dischargers that compliance is acknowledged and commended, and that violations will be met by a prompt enforcement response to deter future non-compliance. Over time, enforcement effectiveness will increase, thereby producing measurable results to be used to determine the state of compliance.


In accordance with the State's Enforcement Policy, advisory and prosecution staff members (led by the Executive Officer and Assistant Executive Officer, respectively) meet at least annually to discuss regional enforcement priorities. Currently, regional enforcement priorities focus on enforcement of violations that affected one or more key beneficial use categories (i.e. municipal water supply, fish and shellfish consumption, recreation, and ecosystem health) in a key area for the specific use. Consistent with our Practical Vision goal of focusing work on the most important issues, this approach to prioritizing enforcement ensures that violations which potentially do harm in the most important water body areas are not overlooked. However, it is not the only determinate factor when selecting cases for formal enforcement. Other factors considered include variables such as timing/case readiness, available resources, program-specific enforcement priorities, degree of harm to receiving waters, and Enforcement Policy priorities such as considerations for environmental justice and the human right to water. In April 2018 the San Diego Water Board adopted Resolution No. R9-2018-0043, reflecting these regional enforcement priorities.




As of January 2007, the Regional Water Board are posting, on at least a quarterly interval, information related to all enforcement activities that are recorded in our data system referred to as California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS).

Access to information on violations, enforcement actions, and Mandatory Minimum Penalties (MMPs) on a real-time basis is available to the public from the State Water Resources Control Board internet webpage.


The Office of Enforcement was created in mid-2006 to emphasize enforcement as a key component of the Water Boards’ water quality regulatory functions and statutory responsibilities.

The State Water Boards' Water Quality Enforcement Policy articulates enforcement expectations and priorities for the State and the nine Regional Water Boards. OE is responsible for updating the Water Quality Enforcement Policy and evaluating performance metrics for enforcement effectiveness. The Enforcement Policy is currently being updated and can be found here when it goes into effect.


Pursuant to the statewide SEP and Enforcement Policies, dischargers that have been assessed a monetary penalty by a Water Board may choose to satisfy up to 50% of their total liability by funding an eligible environmental project (i.e. SEP or ECA). That portion of the liability (i.e., SEP or ECA dollar amount) is suspended and dismissed at the time the discharger can demonstrate successful completion of the proposed project. A discharger can either conduct the SEP or ECA itself, or contract with a third party for completion of the project. For more information on this process, or eligible and funded projects please refer to our Environmental Projects webpage.

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