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Any person who is aggrieved by an action, or a failure to act, by a Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) may be able to file a petition for review with the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). This question and answer document provides information on filing petitions. Attached to this document are the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions regarding filing and review of petitions.

What actions and failures to act are subject to review?

The Regional Water Board must have acted, or failed to act, in matters involving waste discharge requirements, technical report requests, and waivers (Water Code section 13260 and following); enforcement actions (Water Code section 13300 and following; section 13399.25 and following); national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits (Water Code section 13370 and following); water reclamation (Water Code section 13320 and following); or requests for technical reports from public agencies (Water Code section 13225(c).)

Are actions of the Executive Officer subject to review?

Regional Water Boards take most actions subject to review at public meetings. Executive Officers are authorized to take some actions subject to review. Most of these actions are issuance of cleanup and abatement orders and technical report requests. If an Executive Officer takes the action, it may not be accompanied by a public meeting.

What are the deadlines for filing a petition?

Petitions must be received by the State Water Board within 30 days of the action or failure to act. An action occurs when a Regional Water Board votes for the action or, in the case of actions by the Executive Officer, when the Executive Officer mails or serves a copy of the action. For petitions for review of a failure to act, the 30-day period commences when the Regional Water Board refuses to act, or 60 days after the request was made, whichever occurs sooner.

Where should petitions be sent?

Petitions should be sent to the following address, by mail or fax or in person:

Water Resources Control Board
901 P Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Attention: Elizabeth Miller Jennings

What must be included in the petition?

All petitions must include the following information:

  1. Name and address of the petitioner.
  2. The action or inaction of the Regional Water Board being petitioned.
  3. The date the Regional Water Board acted, refused to act, or was requested to act.
  4. A statement of the reasons the action or inaction was inappropriate or improper.
  5. How the petitioner is aggrieved.
  6. The action the petitioner requests the State Water Board to take.
  7. A statement of points and authorities for any legal issues raised in the petition.
  8. A list of persons interested in the matter. The petitioner should obtain this list from the Regional Water Board.
  9. A statement that copies of the petition have been sent to the Regional Water Board and to the discharger, if different from the petitioner.
  10. A copy of a request to the Regional Water Board asking it to prepare the administrative record.

How can a petitioner request a hearing before the State Water Board?

To request a hearing, the petition must include a statement that additional evidence is available that was not presented to the Regional Water Board, or that the Regional Water Board improperly excluded evidence. The petition must include a detailed statement of the nature of the evidence and the facts it would prove. The petition must also include a full explanation why the evidence was not presented to the Regional Water Board, or how it was improperly excluded.

How can a petitioner request a stay of the effect of an action?

Filing a petition does not automatically stay the effect of an action of a Regional Water Board. (For orders imposing administrative civil liability, the time for payment is extended while the petition is being considered by the State Water Board.) A petitioner can request a stay only by alleging facts and producing proof of the following:

  1. Substantial harm to the petitioner or to the public interest if a stay is not granted;
  2. A lack of substantial harm to other interested persons and to the public interest if a stay is granted; and
  3. Substantial questions of fact or law regarding the action.

A stay request must include an affidavit by a person or persons with knowledge of the facts.

Can a petitioner file a petition as a protective filing?

Petitioners may wish to file a petition within the deadline stated above, but plan to attempt to comply with the Regional Water Board's order, or for other reasons do not seek active review of the petition. Such petitions may be "held in abeyance" by the State Water Board, generally for up to two years. The petition may include a request that the petition be held in abeyance. If there are objections from the Regional Water Board or other interested persons, the State Water Board may proceed with review of the petition.