Enforcement Priorities

The Water Quality Enforcement Policy recommends that the Office of Enforcement propose enforcement priorities and vet them with the Regional Water Board enforcement teams. Some of the enforcement priorities may become statewide enforcement initiatives.

The Enforcement Policy also recommends, that, on an annual basis, enforcement staff for each Regional Water Board seek input at a regularly noticed public meeting of the Regional Water Board and consider identifying general enforcement priorities based on input from members of the public and Regional Water Board members.

State / Region Enforcement Priorities
State Board
  • Promote enforcement and compliance assistance in Disadvantaged Communities and communities with financial hardship.
  • Focus on a method for prioritizing and prosecuting enforcement cases for discharge violations of the industrial and construction general stormwater permits.
  • Focus on using all available regulatory tools, including enforcement tools, to compel responsible parties to provide replacement water to those whose drinking water supply is contaminated by nitrate.
Region 1
  • Coordinate enforcement and compliance assistance efforts in Disadvantaged Communities and communities with financial hardship to seek resolution of water quality violations, to improve/protect the quality and beneficial uses of waters within those communities.
  • Prioritize and pursue enforcement cases for discharge violations associated with site development and use for cannabis cultivation.
  • Identify, prioritize, and pursue enforcement cases for discharge violations associated with agricultural activities other than cannabis cultivation.
Region 2 Our enforcement priorities for FY 2017/18 will generally be focused on egregious violations with the highest adverse water quality impacts, followed by violations that threaten the integrity of the Board’s requirements. These include discharges that result in fish kills or other acute aquatic impacts; illegal fill of streams and wetlands, including violations at permitted stream and wetland projects; violations of site cleanup requirements; and violations of construction, industrial, and municipal stormwater permits. We will also continue to prioritize enforcement of sanitary sewer overflows, particularly from agencies with inadequate sewer infrastructure rehabilitation programs. Finally, we will continue to maintain a near-zero backlog of mandatory minimum penalty assessments.
Region 3
  1. Address high priority violations that pose an immediate and significant threat to water quality, have detrimental impacts to human health and/or the environment.
  2. Prioritize violations that involve a discharge or threatened discharge that impact drinking water sources in disadvantaged communities or communities with financial hardship.
  3. Require replacement water for individuals whose drinking water supply is polluted by nitrate or other contaminants above drinking water standards with a focus on those individuals in disadvantaged communities.
  4. Address violations involving falsification of information, and non-compliant dischargers that realize a competitive economic advantage over compliant members of the regulated public.
Region 4
  • Increase collaboration with all Regional Board Programs in identifying non-compliance and taking follow-up enforcement.
  • Decrease the frequency and quantity of sewage spills by ranking and addressing sanitary sewer permit violations and taking formal actions for spills over 50,000 gallons.
  • Address 100% of violations requiring a mandatory minimum penalty (MMP) within 18 months of discovery.
  • Continue to implement the Enhanced Stormwater Industrial General Permit Compliance Pilot Project in the San Jose Creek sub-watershed. The metrics for the Pilot Project include measuring the effects of focused implementation of the Industrial General Permit on surface water quality, changes in Annual Report water quality data, changes in the number of enrollees in the pilot project area, and changes in MS4 Permittee compliance.
  • Participate in CalEPA’s Environmental Justice Initiatives to identify, inspect, and enroll non-filers into the Industrial General Permit.
  • Implement a Stormwater Industrial General Permit Compliance Assurance Initiative in the cities of Pomona and Paramount. Staff will collaborate with the cities business licensing program to identify and enroll non-filers into the Industrial General Permit.
  • Continue to collaborate with Regional Programs and the State Board to incorporate TMDLs into the Industrial General Permit.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) is anticipated to vote on Basin Plan Amendments to the Water Quality Control Plans for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins and the Tulare Lake Basin (Basin Plans) for a Central Valley-wide Salt and Nitrate Control Program in 2018.  The Salt and Nitrate Control Program is intended to provide a framework for the Central Valley Water Board to regulate salt and nitrate throughout the Central Valley in a sustainable manner while ensuring that groundwater users whose wells are impacted with nitrates are provided safe drinking water supplies.  The Basin Plan Amendments under development include strategies, policies, and guidance to implement recommendations as appropriate from the CV-SALTS-developed Salt and Nitrate Management Plan (SNMP).  Staff working in Compliance and Enforcement for the Central Valley Water Board propose making it a priority for the 2018-19 fiscal year to determine the needs of staff developing the Basin Plan amendments to address CV-SALTS and to ensure that Dischargers are complying with the anticipated changes.

Staffs working in compliance and enforcement for the Central Valley Water Board conduct inspections and issue Inspection Reports and enforcement documents like Notices of Violation (NOVs), Cleanup and Abatement Orders (CAOs), and Administrative Civil Liabilities (ACLs) in efforts to achieve compliance.  To track these actions and documents, staff update corresponding databases such as the California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS); the California Stormwater Multiple Applications and Report Tracking System (SMARTS); and GeoTracker.  While there are some guidance documents for uploading and tracking some enforcement actions, a priority for the 2018-19 fiscal year is to ensure that there are guidance documents (or “Business Rules”) that address all entries to the databases utilized by the Central Valley Water Board. 
Region 6
  • Enforce against violations that have adversely affected groundwater quality.  Emphasis is placed on providing safe drinking when necessary, eliminating the pollutant source, and then cleanup.  Examples include dairies, wastewater treatment facilities and other facilities that infiltrate treated effluent, hexavalent chromium, PCE and petroleum impacted groundwater.
  • Continue to enforce the annual reporting requirements for the NPDES Industrial and Construction Storm Water Programs.  The annual reports provide information on a Discharger’s Best Management Practices (BMPs), discharge quality, and corrective actions on an annual basis.  Improving submittal rates and taking enforcement actions on non-compliant sites should result in significant storm water quality improvements.
  • Enforce against violations where the violations are creating adverse impacts to surface water quality and beneficial uses.  Examples include unauthorized discharges of sewage, hazardous waste, and dredged and/or fill materials to creeks, springs, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
Region 7
  1. Comprehensive update of reporting and record tracking systems.
  2. Utilize Expedited Payment Letter (EPL) as an alternative to formal Administrative Civil Liability Complaints for mandatory minimum penalties (MMPs) that would result in up to $51,000 or less in the assessed amount of liability.
  3. Focus on Category 1 Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) and Class A priority violations.
Region 8 To continue enforcement of violations that adversely affects or threatens water quality, undermines the integrity of the self-reporting regulatory structure, or demonstrates behavior that show a pattern for failing to implement permit requirements. Pay special attention to facilities that discharge high salinity wastes to unlined ponds, facilities that either fail to obtain Clean Water Act 401 certification, implement certification conditions or fail to submit required reports in a timely manner.  Stormwater staff will focus on Industrial and Scrap Metal facilities that show a pattern of not sampling and pay particular attention to Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Authorities’ work toward meeting receiving water quality objectives through monitoring as presented in their annual reports.  Planning staff will monitor for Agricultural operators that fail to join or implement the Conditional Waiver of Agricultural Discharges.
Region 9 Prioritize 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.