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

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Date Published: 03/01/2021 09:00 PM
SB426:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  March 01, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 426


Introduced by Senator Rubio

February 12, 2021


An act to amend Section 13305 of the Water Code, relating to water. An act to add Section 13185 to the Water Code, relating to water quality.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 426, as amended, Rubio. California regional water quality control boards: pollution or nuisance: abatement. Municipal separate storm sewer systems: financial capability analysis.
Under existing law, the State Water Resources Control Board and the California regional water quality control boards prescribe waste discharge requirements for the discharge of stormwater in accordance with the federal national pollutant discharge elimination system permit program. Existing law requires the state board or the regional boards to issue waste discharge requirements that ensure compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and apply any more stringent effluent standards or limitations necessary to implement water quality control plans, or for the protection of beneficial uses, or to prevent nuisance.
This bill would require the state board, by July 1, 2022, to establish financial capability assessment guidelines for municipal separate storm sewer system permittees that are adequate and consistent when considering the costs to local jurisdictions. The bill would require the state board and the regional boards to continue using available regulatory tools and other approaches to foster collaboration with permittees to implement permit requirements in light of the costs of implementation.

Under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, upon determining that a condition of pollution or nuisance exists that has resulted from a nonoperating industrial or business location within its region, a California regional water quality control board is authorized to post notice upon the property in question, stating that the condition constitutes either a condition of pollution or nuisance which is required to be abated by correction of the condition, or it will be corrected at the property owner’s expense. The notice is required to include a date not less than 10 days from posting for any property owners with objections to attend a hearing.

This bill would change the minimum amount of time the notice has to provide for this hearing from 10 days from the posting of the notice to 14 days from the posting of the notice.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (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:

13185.
 (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.

SECTION 1.Section 13305 of the Water Code is amended to read:
13305.

(a)Upon determining that a condition of pollution or nuisance exists that has resulted from a nonoperating industrial or business location within its region, a regional board may cause notice of the condition to be posted upon the property in question. The notice shall state that the condition constitutes either a condition of pollution or nuisance that is required to be abated by correction of the condition, or a condition that will be corrected by the city, county, other public agency, or regional board at the property owner’s expense. The notice shall further state that all property owners having any objections to the proposed correction of the condition may attend a hearing to be held by the regional board at a time not less than 14 days from the posting of the notice.

(b)Notice of the hearing prescribed in this section shall be given in the county where the property is located pursuant to Section 6061 of the Government Code.

(c)In addition to posting and publication, notice as required in this section shall be mailed to the property owners as their names and addresses appear from the last equalized assessment roll.

(d)At the time stated in the notices, the regional board shall hear and consider all objections or protests, if any, to the proposed correction of the condition, and may continue the hearing from time to time.

(e)(1)After final action is taken by the regional board on the disposition of any protests or objections, or if no protests or objections are received, the regional board shall request the city, county, or other public agency in which the condition of pollution or nuisance exists to abate the condition or nuisance.

(2)If the city, county, or other public agency does not abate the condition within a reasonable time, the regional board shall cause the condition to be abated. The regional board may proceed by force account, contract or other agreement, or any other method deemed most expedient by the regional board, and shall apply to the state board for the necessary funds.

(3)The regional board shall be permitted reasonable access to the affected property as necessary to perform any cleanup, abatement, or other remedial work. Access shall be obtained with the consent of the owner or possessor of the property, or, if the consent is withheld, with a warrant duly issued pursuant to the procedure described in Title 13 (commencing with Section 1822.50) of Part 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure. However, in the event of an emergency affecting public health or safety, the regional board may enter the property without consent or the issuance of a warrant.

(f)The owner of the property on which the condition exists, or is created, is liable for all reasonable costs incurred by the regional board or any city, county, or public agency in abating the condition. The amount of the cost for abating the condition upon the property in question constitutes a lien upon the property so posted upon the recordation of a notice of lien, which identifies the property on which the condition was abated, the amount the lien, and the owner of record of the property, in the office of the county recorder of the county in which the property is located. Upon recordation, the lien has the same force, effect, and priority as a judgment lien, except that it attaches only to the property so posted and described in the notice of lien, and shall continue for 10 years from the time of the recording of the notice unless sooner released or otherwise discharged. The lien may be foreclosed by an action brought by the city, county, other public agency, or state board, on behalf of the regional board, for a money judgment. Money recovered by a judgment in favor of the state board shall be returned to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement Account.

(g)The city, county, other public agency, or state board on behalf of a regional board, may, at any time, release all, or any portion, of the property subject to a lien imposed pursuant to subdivision (f) from the lien or subordinate the lien to other liens and encumbrances if it determines that the amount owed is sufficiently secured by a lien on other property or that the release or subordination of the lien will not jeopardize the collection of the amount owed. A certificate by the state board, city, county, or other public agency to the effect that any property has been released from the lien or that the lien has been subordinated to other liens and encumbrances is conclusive evidence that the property has been released or that the lien has been subordinated as provided in the certificate.

(h)As used in this section, the words “nonoperating” or “not in operation” mean the business is not conducting routine operations usually associated with that kind of business.

(i)Nothing in this section limits the authority of any state agency under any other law or regulation to enforce or administer any cleanup or abatement activity.