California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle released a report chiding of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and three of its nine regional water quality boards for failing to meet more than a half dozen requirements regarding their stormwater rules.

Howle reported to Governor Brown, legislative leaders and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee that the water boards “…must do more to ensure that local jurisdictions’ costs to reduce storm water pollution are necessary and appropriate.”

Local Jurisdictions include cities, counties, and other public entities who must tax their citizens to pay for the remediation efforts, whether there are needed or not.

Criteria Not Met

The Auditor, in a 56-page report, said that the water boards did not meet the following state or federal requirements in several areas, including:

  • The regional boards have not adequately considered the cost of implementing pollution control requirements
  • The state water board has not provided guidance to local jurisdictions for tracking storm water costs, diminishing the ability of regional boards to evaluate the burden on local jurisdictions
  • The state water board and regional boards have established some pollutant control plans without seeking key information, resulting in unnecessary costs for local jurisdictions
  • The state water board’s statewide trash policy has resulted in some local jurisdictions unnecessarily redirecting resources for storm water management
  • Local jurisdictions have had limited ability to obtain funds for storm water infrastructure, but recent legislation may make more funding available

Auditor Howle did more than complain—she also provided 13 recommendations to the water boards and one for the legislature to remedy the poor performance noted above.

She asked that SWRCB establish guidance for the regional boards under its control in two specific areas. She set concrete deadlines (August 2018) to provide guidance for regional boards to use to track costs local jurisdictions will incur in order to comply with pollutant control plans and guidance for local jurisdictions on methods for tracking the cost of storm water management.

The regional boards included in this audit—Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Great Central Valley—were given specific instructions to make sure their regulations were based on The State Board, in its response to the audit, said they could not get all this work done by August 18th. This is the same agency which has been unable to spend the November 2014 water bond money for either projects or dams.

By Dave Sorem, P.E. ECA Government Affairs Chairman
email: [email protected]