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State Water Board Office of Enforcement

State Water Board Office of Enforcement

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)

Background Information

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and its nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Boards, collectively, the Water Boards) have a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) Policy ("SEP Policy" or "Policy").  The Water Boards may allow a discharger to satisfy up to 50 percent of the monetary assessment imposed in an administrative civil liability (ACL) order by completing or funding one or more eligible SEPs.

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".  Water Code section 13385(l)(2) also defines a SEP as "an environmentally beneficial project that a person agrees to undertake, with the approval of the regional board, that would not be undertaken in the absence of an enforcement action under this section".  Similarly, Water Code section 13399.35(b) defines a SEP as "an environmentally beneficial project that a person agrees to undertake, with the approval of the regional board, which would not be undertaken in the absence of an enforcement action under [Water Code] Section 13399.33".

Updates to SEP Policy

The State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement is in the process of revising the current SEP Policy to incorporate the requirements of AB 1071, now Public Resources Code section 71118 (b), pertaining the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and its Boards, Departments, and Office (BDOs).  The policy will be revised to clarify and include each of the following:

  1. A public process to solicit potential SEPs from disadvantaged communities.
  2. Allowing the amount of a SEP to be up to 50 percent of an administratively imposed civil liability brought the jurisdiction of a board, department, or office within the agency.
  3. 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 board, department, or office within the agency.
  4. A consideration of the relationship between the location of the violation and the location of the proposed SEP.

The SEP Policy amendment planned timeline is as follows: public workshop(s) in Summer 2017, public comment period in Summer 2017, and State Water Board hearing in Fall 2017.

Submitting Project Ideas and 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 May 2017)

A more defined public process for soliciting potential SEPs will be part of the upcoming SEP Policy amendment.  In the meantime, please contact Ms. Jasmine Oaxaca at Jasmine.Oaxaca@waterboards.ca.gov who can assist in connecting you with the appropriate Regional Board contact.

Additional Information