In October, the California Water Association (CWA), Cal Water and San Jose Water Company submitted comment letters to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on the Draft 2016 Water Quality Enforcement Policy (Policy). The intent of the Policy, which amends the 2010 version, is to “protect and enhance the quality of the waters of the state by defining an enforcement process that addresses water quality problems in the most firm, fair, efficient, effective and consistent manner.” While CWA supported the intent of the proposed amendments, the letter outlined three general areas of concern:
- CWA emphasized that the Policy “creates a substantial risk of enforcement against drinking water systems for their relatively low-threat discharges” since it focuses on publicly owned treatment works and does not address some of the issues specific to potable water.
- The Policy “should be modified to better incentivize drinking water systems to: engage in robust clean-up and collaboration efforts; behave not only reasonably and non-negligently, but proactively; establish an excellent historical record with respect to implementation of and compliance with applicable permits and waste discharge requirements; and to invest in and implement state-of-the-art discharge management practices that exceed industry practices for certain types of discharges.”
- The Policy should be modified to consider the critical public services provided to the wide range of consumers served by CWA drinking water system members, including customers in disadvantaged and small communities that do not have alternative water supplies.