Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)
The State Water Board adopted Resolution 2017-0074, which amends to the Policy on Supplemental Environmental Projects, on December 5, 2017. The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the regulatory action on May 3, 2018 and the amended policy became effective on that date.
Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) are environmentally beneficial projects that a settling party agrees to undertake in the settlement of an action to offset a portion of a civil penalty. The State Water Board supports the inclusion of SEPs in the settlement of an enforcement action, so long as these projects meet the criteria specified in the SEP Policy to ensure that the selected projects have environmental value, further the enforcement goals and other important policies of the Water Boards, and are subject to appropriate input and oversight by the Water Boards.
Submitting Project Proposals
The Water Boards are currently seeking ideas and proposals for potential SEPs to be reviewed for eligibility and then compiled into a statewide proposed SEP list. This list will be available to the public and updated on a quarterly basis. Most importantly, the proposed SEP list will be provided to dischargers who are issued ACL orders should they choose to voluntarily implement a SEP as part of their settlement.
Current Proposed SEP List (updated January 2018)
A more defined public process for soliciting potential SEPs is part of the proposed SEP Policy amendment. In the meantime, please utilize CalEPA's SEP Proposal web-based form below.
CalEPA SEP Proposal Form
Dr. Matthew Buffleben at Matthew.Buffleben@waterboards.ca.gov can also assist in connecting you with the appropriate Regional Water Board or State Water Board Division contact.
To view information on currently active SEPs, please refer to the Penalty Project Report.
More information on completed SEPs is currently being compiled.
2017 Policy Amendments
Assembly Bill 1071 (AB 1071), passed into law in October 2015 as Public Resources Code section 71118 (a)(3), defines a SEP as “an environmentally beneficial project that a person subject to an enforcement action voluntarily agrees to undertake in settlement of the action and to offset a portion of a civil penalty.”
The SEP Policy amendment was needed to fulfill the requirements of AB 1071, which required each board, department, or office (BDO) within the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) to establish a policy on SEPs that benefit disadvantaged communities, and must include, but need not be limited to, all of the following:
- A public process to solicit potential SEPs from disadvantaged communities.
- Allowing the amount of a SEP to be up to 50 percent of an administratively imposed civil liability brought under the jurisdiction of a BDO within CalEPA.
- An annual list of SEPs that may be selected to settle a portion of an administratively imposed civil liability brought under the jurisdiction of a BDO within CalEPA.
- A consideration of the relationship between the location of the violation and the location of the proposed SEP.
The SEP Policy has also been amended to: apply not only to the State Water Board and the nine Regional Water Boards, but also to enforcement actions prosecuted by the Division of Drinking Water and its Districts, and the Division of Water Rights; include human right to water considerations; align with the State Water Board's April 4, 2017, revision of the Water Quality Enforcement Policy (Enforcement Policy); and clarify certain principles that are central to the SEP Policy and improve transparency in Policy implementation based on stakeholder input.
Third Revised Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment, Board Workshop, Public Hearing, and Adoption Meeting (Notice) (posted 11/15/17)
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) accepted public comments on the Draft Policy on Supplemental Environmental Projects. The comment period ended at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Monday, September 25, 2017.
The draft SEP Policy Amendment for public comment and supporting Staff Report are provided below:
For reference, the existing 2009 SEP Policy and comparison document is also provided below:
The State Water Board held a Board Workshop on August 16, 2017 and a Public Hearing on September 20, 2017. A revised draft Policy and response to comments will be available in October 2017. Comments received by September 25, 2017 are available here.
The Response to Comments document and the Revised Draft SEP Policy Amendment are provided below:
- Response to Comments
- Revised Draft SEP Policy Amendment
- Revised Draft SEP Policy Amendment (Clean copy)
- Revised Draft SEP Policy Amendment comparison to 2009 Policy
Additional Supporting Documents
- For questions regarding the SEP policy, submitting SEP proposal, or active SEPs please contact Dr. Matthew Buffleben at Matthew.Buffleben@waterboards.ca.gov.
- For information on the Water Boards' Enforcement Program, visit the Enforcement webpage.
- For information on CalEPA’s BDOs’ SEP Policies, visit the CalEPA SEP webpage.