Water Quality Enforcement Policy

Water Quality Enforcement Policy Amendments

The Legislature adopted the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Wat. Code sections 13000 et seq.), which grants the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Boards) and State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) (together Water Boards) the authority to implement and enforce water quality laws, regulations, policies, and plans, to protect waters of the State. Several Water Code sections require the Water Boards to take into consideration specified factors when assessing civil liability for violations. Others provide for mandatory minimum civil liabilities for certain violations. Those Water Code sections, however, do not establish a process for prioritizing discretionary enforcement actions, nor establish a methodology for consistent and transparent analysis of the statutory factors that must be considered in assessing an administrative civil liability.

Proposed Amendments

The amendments would clarify certain principles that are central to the Enforcement Policy, helping to ensure more transparent and consistent application of the statutory factors the Water Boards must consider when assessing a civil liability. The amendments would change the case prioritization and violation ranking process to make it more workable, efficient, and consistent throughout the state. The amendments are also intended to bring greater global transparency to the Water Boards' enforcement process and penalty methodology application. Non substantive technical amendments would increase comprehensibility.

Initial Statement of Reasons

Public Comments

Board Adoption Hearing - April 4, 2017

The hearing for the proposed amendments to the Water Quality Enforcement Policy was scheduled for consideration at the March 7, 2017 Board meeting. However, the item was deferred to the April 4, 2017 meeting.

OAL Approval – October 5, 2017

The Office of Administrative Law approved the adoption of the Water Quality Enforcement Policy on October 5, 2017

Webinar on the Enforcement Policy's Penalty Methodology

On February 16 and 17, 2017 State Water Board staff gave webinars on the Enforcement Policy's penalty methodology, presenting two different scenarios. The webinar focused on the differences between the 2009 policy and changes in the 2017 policy. The scenarios included a sewer overflow and a potable water discharge. Below is a copy of the presentation from the webinar. For further information, please contact Bryan Elder by email at: Bryan.Elder@waterboards.ca.gov

2009 Enforcement Policy