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Water Quality Enforcement Policy Amendments

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.

2017 Water Quality Enforcement Policy

2017 Penalty Methodology Spreadsheet

OAL Approval

Application of the 2009 and 2017 Enforcement Policies

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

Initial Statement of Reasons

Comparison between the 2010 Policy and the Proposed Amendments

Public Comments

Public Comments

Response to Public Comments

Additional Proposed Changes following the closing of Public Comment Period

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.

Agenda Item

Proposed changes made after the February 2, 2017 hearing

Cumulative changes proposed to the existing 2010 Water Quality Enforcement Policy

The State Water Board approved Resolution No. 2017-0020, which adopts the 2017 Water Quality Enforcement Policy pending the review and approval by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The 2017 Water Quality Enforcement Policy was submitted to OAL on August 28, 2017. OAL has 30 days to act on it.

OAL Approval – October 5, 2017

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

Notice of Approval of Regulatory Action

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 the2009 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 Dr. Matthew Buffleben - Matthew.Buffleben@waterboards.ca.gov

2009 Enforcement Policy

2009 Water Quality Enforcement Policy

2010 Penalty Methodology Spreadsheet


Revised Notice


Draft 2016 Water Quality Enforcement Policy