Report 2017-118 Recommendation 9 Responses

Report 2017-118: State and Regional Water Boards: They Must Do More to Ensure That Local Jurisdictions' Costs to Reduce Storm Water Pollution Are Necessary and Appropriate (Release Date: March 2018)

Recommendation #9 To: Water Resources Control Board

Until the Legislature amends state law, the State Water Board should provide guidance to the regional boards on when studies of specific water bodies should be conducted and assist the regional boards in obtaining funding for those studies.

1-Year Agency Response

Studies of specific water bodies, such as water effects ratios for metals, are often conducted during the process of adding, modifying, or removing a water quality objective through a rulemaking to amend a water quality control plan. This process typically results from a water body being listed as impaired (i.e., not meeting water quality objectives) due to one or more pollutants. The State Water Board provides direction to the regional water boards on developing site specific objectives in its 2005 guidance, "A Process for Addressing Impaired Waters in California" (available at https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/tmdl/docs/iw_guidance.pdf) and through the Administrative Procedures Manual. Water Board is assessing current guidance to determine if additional detail on water body-specific studies is needed. In addition, as resources become available, the Water Boards identify priority studies that should be conducted, including development of site-specific objectives. This year over $150,000 of federal water quality control planning grant funds were allocated to compile site-specific data needed to utilize a model (the biotic ligand model) to derive site-specific objectives for copper in the Los Angeles Region.

  • Completion Date: March 2019
  • Response Date: February 2019

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented

The State Water Board recently determined that its previously-issued document on addressing impaired waters will serve as its guidance to the regional boards for conducting studies of specific water bodies. It also subsequently clarified for us that it will continue to assess this guidance in recognition that methods and tools may continue to evolve.


6-Month Agency Response

Prioritization for specific water body studies often occurs during the triennial review of water quality control plans. Studies of specific water bodies, such as water effect ratios for metals, are often conducted during the process of adding, modifying, or removing a water quality objective through a rulemaking to amend a water quality control plan. The State Water Board currently provides guidance to the regional water boards on developing or amending water quality control plans and policies through the Administrative Procedures Manual and informal guidelines. The State Water Board convened a meeting with the Regional Water Boards to begin to assess current guidance to determine if additional guidelines are needed on when a regional water board should initiate a study for a specific water body. Once the Water Boards develop draft guidance, staff will begin meeting with stakeholders. Additionally, the Water Boards are pursuing several avenues to increase the resources/funding available to undertake site-specific studies, including proposals to allocate some federal funding for discretionary contracts to these studies.

  • Estimated Completion Date: To be determined
  • Response Date: August 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

Prioritization for specific water body studies often occurs during the triennial review of the water quality control plans. Studies of specific water bodies, such as water effect ratios for metals, are often conducted during the process of adding, modifying, or removing a water quality objective through a rulemaking to amend a water quality control plan. The State Water Board currently provides guidance to the regional water boards on developing or amending water quality control plans and policies through the Administrative Procedures Manual and informal guidelines. The State Water Board convened a meeting with the Regional Water Boards to begin to assess current guidance to determine if additional guidelines are needed on when a regional water board should initiate a study for a specific water body. Once the Water Boards develop draft guidance, staff will begin meeting with stakeholders.

  • Estimated Completion Date: To be determined
  • Response Date: April 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


All Recommendations in 2017-118

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.