Today's Law As Amended

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SB-426 Municipal separate storm sewer systems: financial capability analysis.(2021-2022)

As Amends the Law Today

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares as follows:
(1) On November 24, 2014, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, announced it had adopted a refined financial capability assessment framework to aid in negotiating schedules for compliance with the municipal federal Clean Water Act requirements and in developing integrated management plans.
(2) The financial capability assessment framework does not alter or waive water quality standards, but offers alternative compliance pathways to municipal separate storm sewer system permittees and achievable schedules for compliance for disadvantaged communities.
(3) The State Water Resources Control Board and the California regional water quality control boards actively work with municipalities to adjust the timeframes for municipalities to come into compliance with their stormwater permits, taking into account each municipality’s costs of compliance and ability to pay, as well as the need to make demonstrable improvements in water quality over time.
(4) The state board and regional boards also have worked with permittees to create new ways to reduce costs or spread the costs, such as permits that cover entire regions. For example, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles region, has worked with municipal permittees to build partnerships with state and other local agencies and to identify opportunities for funding stormwater projects.
(5) At the November 6, 2018, statewide general election, voters in the County of Los Angeles approved Measure W to create and provide parcel tax revenue for the Safe Clean Water Program that is designed to support stormwater quality improvement projects.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this measure to do all of the following:
(1) Comply with the federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1251 et seq.).
(2) Help local governments that are making a good faith effort to be stewards of the environment but lack a dedicated revenue source for stormwater or have a revenue source that is insufficient to meet the estimated costs of compliance.
(3) Find solutions and share the cost of compliance for local governments that are participating in a watershed management program or an enhanced watershed management program.
(4) Not weaken environmental protections for lower income communities but rather to provide funding to achieve the same protections for all communities.
(5) Help the State Water Resources Control Board, the California regional water quality control boards, and local governments to prioritize the many competing requirements faced by communities dealing with funding drinking water, groundwater, sanitary sewer, flood protection, and stormwater improvements.
(6) Give communities time to apply for grants to overcome the financial constraints of local government without fear of fines and third-party litigation.

SEC. 2.

 Section 13185 is added to the Water Code, to read:

 (a) The state board and the regional boards shall continue using available regulatory tools and other approaches to foster collaboration with permittees to implement permit requirements in light of the costs of implementation.
(b) By July 1, 2022, the state board shall establish financial capability assessment guidelines for municipal separate storm sewer system permittees that are adequate and consistent when considering the costs to local jurisdictions, including costs incurred in previous years. In developing the guidelines, the state board shall document any source it uses to develop an estimate of local costs and the overall cost of stormwater management. The state board shall consider, but is not limited to considering, both of the following United States Environmental Protection Agency policies in drafting the financial capability assessment guidelines:
(1) Combined Sewer Overflows—Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development, dated February 1997.
(2) Affordability Criteria for Small Drinking Water Systems: An EPA Science Advisory Board Report, dated December 2002.