Scope and Methodology
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee (Audit Committee) directed the California State Auditor to review the regulation of storm water pollution by the State Water Board and three regional boards. Specifically, we were directed to review how the State Water Board and the Central Valley, Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay regional boards developed and implemented storm water permits and how the pollutant limits contained in the permits affected local jurisdictions. Our audit scope focuses on storm water permits issued by the regional boards to regulate local jurisdictions with populations of 100,000 or more, which the USEPA refers to as Phase I permits. Phase II storm water permits, which are for smaller entities, are managed by the State Water Board and are not included in the audit scope. Table 4 lists the objectives that the Audit Committee approved and the methods used to address those objectives.
|Review and evaluate the laws, rules, and regulations significant to the audit objectives.
|Reviewed relevant laws, regulations, and other background materials applicable to the regulation of storm water pollution by the State Water Board and regional boards.
|Identify the roles and responsibilities of the State Water Board, regional boards, and any other relevant statewide entities involved in developing policy and providing oversight regarding storm water permitting. Determine whether these entities’ storm water permitting and compliance requirements are consistent with federal law and regulations, including the Clean Water Act.
|Identify data and information used by the State Water Board, regional boards, and any other entities to allocate storm water cleanup costs and establish storm water permits, permit requirements, and associated programs directed at local jurisdictions. In particular, explain the history and evolution of storm water permits for Los Angeles.
|Since 2011, for the three regional boards responsible for storm water permitting for Central Valley, Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay, do the following:
|a. Determine whether the three boards’ storm water permitting and compliance requirements are consistent with state and federal requirements. Identify any significant disparities and determine why those disparities exist.
|Reviewed all pollutant control plans currently in effect for Central Valley, Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay and determined, without reaching conclusions on legal issues currently being litigated, whether they were consistent with state and federal requirements.
|b. Identify any significant differences in storm water permitting and compliance requirements among the three boards, determine why such differences exist, and, to the extent possible, determine the impact any differences have on local jurisdictions and other parties.
|c. To the extent possible, determine whether those responsible for storm water pollution in these three regions are also responsible for the associated costs of their pollution and the storm water permits. If not, determine whether options exist for equitably redistributing cleanup costs to those responsible. In particular, determine who has paid for storm water pollution within the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles board.
|d. For a selection of local jurisdictions covered by the three boards, such as municipalities and counties, identify the fiscal and other impacts jurisdictions have had or will have in complying with storm water permits. Provide the jurisdictions’ perspectives about these impacts and, to the extent possible, assess their significance.
|e. For the selection of three or more of the local jurisdictions specified by the requester, identify current and potential funding sources for programs that target storm water cleanup and management, such as watershed management programs.
|As part of reviewing the storm water permitting processes and policies, identify any best practices that could assist the State Water Board, regional boards, and permitted jurisdictions.
|During the course of our audit, we identified some potential best practices that we summarize in the Introduction.
|Review and assess any other issues that are significant to the audit.
|During the course of our audit, concerns were raised regarding the qualifications of board members for the State Water Board and regional boards. We reviewed information about each board member’s qualifications for the State Water Board and the Central Valley, Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay boards and found that they all met the qualifications established in state law.
Sources: California State Auditor’s analysis of the Audit Committee’s audit request number 2017‑118, and information and documentation identified in the table column titled Method.
We conducted this audit under the authority vested in the California State Auditor by section 8543 et seq. of the California Government Code and according to generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives specified in the Scope and Methodology section of the report. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.
ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
March 1, 2018
Linus Li, CPA, CMA, Audit Principal
Nathan Briley, JD, MPP
Michaela Kretzner, MPP
Amanda Millen, MBA
Jasmine M. Zandian
Mary Lundeen, Sr. Staff Counsel
For questions regarding the contents of this report, please contact Margarita Fernández, Chief of Public Affairs, at 916.445.0255.