Environmental regulations in California are some of the strictest in the nation. From our cars to our water, California likes to keep it clean. The rules and regulations regarding California Water Quality Control are periodically amended due to changes in climate, drought conditions, and concern for the environment and water resources.
Since 1995, the regulations contained in Title 23 have approved the revocation of business licenses, operating permits, costly fines, court costs and legal fees levied against violators of Water Quality Control statutes by the California Attorney General’s Office. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse for non-compliance in California.
The slogan many have adopted to clarify water quality control laws is simply stated:
NOTHING DOWN THE DRAIN BUT RAIN.
When cleaning hydrocarbon petroleum based stains it is inappropriate to use water. Contract cleaning services that use hot or cold pressure washing equipment should not be used unless they use water reclamation equipment which must then be disposed of at state licensed disposal sites. This can be summed up by saying: NO CHEMICALS, NO SOAPS AND ESPECIALLY NO ACID CLEANERS.
California’s strict water quality control regulations are set forth and enforced by the California State Department of Water Resources Board. This agency provides important administrative information and guidelines to assure that water quality control laws are enforced and the environment is protected. The California State Water Resources Control Board ensures the highest reasonable quality of water in the state by coordinating and controlling water quality and administrating water rights. Cal/EPA authorizes the board to regulate and protect water quality in California.
The California Department of Water Resources protects, conserves, develops, and manages California’s water, and supplies suitable water for personal use, irrigation, industry, recreation, power generation, and fish and wildlife conservation.
NEVER DISCHARGE WASTEWATER OFF PROPERTY. This is a violation that incurs the following penalties: Cities- $2,000 per day, State-$10,000 per day, EPA-$25,000 per day. KNOW THE LAWS OF YOUR STATE. IGNORANCE IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE DEFENSE FOR NON-COMPLIANCE. Check with your local Water Control Board or your Department of Water Resources if you do not know the laws.
Protecting the environment and its natural resources should be a concern to everyone. When each person does their part, no matter how small a role, the benefits will carry forth to succeeding generations. At Property Prep, doing our job responsibly is our solemn pledge to both our clients and our environment.
STATE AUTHORITY UNDER THE CLEAN WATER ACT
The Act uses water quality standards and technology-based effluent limitations to protect water quality. Technology-based effluent limitations are specific numerical limitations established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and placed on pollutants from certain sources. The Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants to surface waters, unless the discharge is authorized by, and in compliance with, a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
In California, Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Board) issue such permits, which typically contain: 1) effluent limitations, and 2) reporting and monitoring requirements.
The Act requires state governments to establish overall water quality standards for all bodies of water in the state. These standards should consist of a designated beneficial use and corresponding maximum concentrations for various pollutants which impact that use. Additionally, these standards should reflect the unique environmental characteristics of a region (e.g. the prevalence of rainwater with a ph level more acidic than allowable standards for the impacted water body). In waters where industrial and municipal sources have achieved technology-based effluent limitations, though water quality standards are not met, the state may require discharges to meet additional pollution control requirements.
VIOLATION OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT
A violation of the Act entails the discharge of a pollutant to navigable waters from a point source by any person in violation of an NPDES or other Clean Water Act permit. Courts have held that essentially any substance other than water is capable of classification as a pollutant under the Act. A discharge requires the collection and channeling of a pollutant through the development of a discernable, confined and discrete conveyance system. This conveyance system forms a “point source” which is capable of regulation under the Act by the Regional Boards. Navigable waters include any natural body of water or adjacent waterway. Such a definition is intended to capture those non-navigable adjacent waterways such as wetlands.