The State Water Resources Control Board issued fines (Administrative Civil Liabilities) to 458 people/companies/organizations on November 28. There were actually 544 fines; some people or companies had several. Each fine was $75,000 – seventy five thousand dollars – ouch! This was just for not filing reports of water use for 2015, not for doing something wrong with water. “Fortunately”, the Water Board offered each recipient of a letter a “settlement”; the numbers I saw were between $250 and $3,500 per letter.
YOU ARE HEREBY GIVEN NOTICE THAT:
1. [NAME] (referred to herein as Licensee) is alleged to have violated Title 23, Chapter 2.7, Article 2, section 929 of the California Code of Regulations. Section 929 requires annual use reports to be filed by July 1st of the succeeding year for every water right License.
For those whose water right is less than 20 acre-feet, they got letters threatening fines, but not actual assessments. The Board wants these folks to file asap, not pay fines unless someone ignores a series of letters. One client of mine was not getting any mail, since the mail delivery person was putting mail in all the wrong boxes. Once the problem got solved, my client’s first contact was a letter threatening a fine larger than $75,000! Those reports are now filed and there won’t be a fine.
Back in September, I took a weekend going through the Board’s list of 3,200 non-filers and notified everyone I could reach electronically – email, web pages, even a few FaceBook messages. Almost none of these folks are still on the current list. I wish I could have reached every name on the list, but I don’t have the resources of a government agency to find everyone.
2. Water Code section 1846, subdivision (a)(2), provides that the State Water Board may administratively impose civil liability to any person or entity who violates a regulation or order adopted by the State Water Board not to exceed $500 for each day in which the violation occurs. Water Code section 1846, subdivision (c) provides that civil liability may be imposed administratively by the State Water Board pursuant to Water Code section 1055.
3. Water Code section 1055, subdivision (a), provides that the Executive Director for the State Water Board may issue a complaint to any person or entity to whom administrative civil liability (ACL) may be imposed.
PROPOSED CIVIL LIABILITY
8. California Water Code section 1846(a)(2) provides that the State Water Board may administratively impose civil liability to any person or entity who violates a regulation or order adopted by the State Water Board in an amount not to exceed $500 for each day in which the violation occurs.
9. As of November 28, 2016, Licensee has been in violation for 150 days. Based on the days of violation described in the previous paragraph, the maximum liability for the violations alleged is $75,000 (150 days at $500/day).
CONDITIONAL SETTLEMENT OFFER
12. To promote resolution of the alleged annual use filing violations and administrative efficiency, the Division makes the following conditional settlement offer (Conditional Offer). Licensee can avoid further enforcement action and settle the alleged failure to file annual use violation by agreeing to comply with the terms of the Conditional Offer, provided below, as well as in the Acceptance of Conditional Settlement Offer and Waiver of Right to Hearing or Reconsideration (Acceptance and Waiver) enclosed hereto as Exhibit “A.”
13. This Conditional Offer requires Licensee to pay an Expedited Payment Amount of $1,500, file the Annual Use Report within 20 days of receipt of this complaint, and waive the right to a hearing and reconsideration of the alleged violations. This Expedited Payment Amount is based on Licensee’s failure to comply to date, maximum amount of allowed diversion under the License along with staff costs incurred in preparing the ACL complaint.