SUBJECT: Amendment of Water Quality Enforcement Policy
DISCUSSION: Effective January 1, 1997, a new Chapter 5.8 (commencing with section 13399) was added to Division 7 of the Water Code. The purpose of this new law is to provide an expedited approach for dealing with minor violations of the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. Commonly referred to as the "fix-it ticket" legislation, the new law will require the use of field-issued notices to comply as the sole enforcement option in given situations.
The notice to comply approach is limited to minor violations. The term "minor violation" is not defined in the new law. Rather, the State Water Board is required to adopt regulations or state policy to determine the types of violations that are minor violations. In determining what are minor violations, the following factors are to be considered:
The legislation also provides that a minor violation is not:
An amendment to the State Water Board's Enforcement Policy is proposed to define what is a minor violation for purposes of the new law. A hearing is required before the Enforcement Policy can be amended. Attached is a copy of the hearing notice and draft amendment.
POLICY ISSUE: How broadly should the term minor violation be defined?
FISCAL IMPACT: The breadth of the amendment could have a small impact on the amount of administrative civil liability that can be assessed..
RWQCB IMPACT: All Regions.
STAFF RECOMMENDATION: N/A
A public hearing on amendments to the State Water Resources Control Board's (SWRCB) Water Quality Enforcement Policy (Policy) will be held on August 6, 1997 at 9:00 a.m. in the First Floor Hearing Room of the Paul R. Bonderson Building, 901 P Street, Sacramento, CA.
The SWRCB adopted the Policy on April 18, 1996 in an attempt to ensure that enforcement actions throughout the State are consistent, predictable, and fair. On January 1, 1997, a new law went into effect which provides an expedited approach for dealing with minor violations of the Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act. The new law, which requires the use of field-issued notices to comply in certain enforcement situations, also requires the SWRCB to adopt regulations or policy to determine the types of violations that are considered to be minor in notice. The proposed amendment to the Policy would satisfy this requirement and is attached to this notice. The purpose of the hearing is to receive testimony on this proposed amendment.
It is requested that written comments be submitted prior to the date of the hearing. The SWRCB requests that oral presentations at the hearing summarize written comments, if any, to the degree possible. Time limitations may be imposed on oral presentations. Submittal of written comments is encouraged to ensure that all comments will be included before the SWRCB. Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on August 6, 1997, the date of the hearing. A copy of the draft Policy may be obtained by submitting a request to: Water Quality Enforcement Policy, SWRCB/OCC, P.O. Box 100, Sacramento, CA 95812-0100. A copy may also be obtained by contacting Craig M. Wilson at (916) 657-2403 or our internet address http://www.swrcb.ca.gov.
Whereas (new No. 11)
11. Chapter 5.8 (commencing with Section 13399) of Division 7 of the Water Code establishes a program for minor violations and requires the State Water Board to determine the types of violations that are minor violations.
Resolved (new No. XI)
XI. The violations listed below are considered to be minor in nature provided the violations do not include the following:
Any knowing, willful, or intentional violation of Division 7 (commencing with Section 13000) of the Water Code.
Any violation of Division 7 of the Water Code that enables the violator to benefit economically from noncompliance, either by realizing reduced costs or by gaining a competitive advantage.
Any violation that is a chronic violation or that is committed by a recalcitrant violator.
A. Inadvertent omissions or deficiencies in recordkeeping that do not prevent an overall compliance determination.
B. Records not physically available at the time of the inspection provided the records do exist and can be produced in a timely manner.
C. Failure to have permits available during an inspection.
D. Other minor violations of permit conditions that require a specified action but do not involve a discharge of waste.
E. Other minor permit violations that do not represent a significant threat to the environment provided such violations do not violate any other order or prohibition issued by the State or Regional Boards. Significant threat means the threat of or an actual change in water quality that could result in a violation of water quality objectives or a condition of pollution or nuisance.