State Water Resources Control Board Needs to Exert Some Self-Control

Jeff Miller
California State Assemblyman representing the 71st Assembly District

Earlier this year, many of my colleagues from the
Legislature from both parties joined me in signing a letter protesting the
State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) draft Industrial Storm Water
permit.

The SWRCB has proposed a revised storm water permit that
would require that businesses and public agencies comply with several new
requirements that are over and above what the US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) mandates and will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in
additional costs with no proven environmental benefits.

Many California industries and many public agencies have
warned the costs of these proposed storm water requirements would be huge, with
no proven benefits. In addition, the SWRCB has not been willing to conduct any
cost/benefit analysis or to look at less costly alternative methods for
controlling storm water runoff.

We have urged the SWRCB to go back to the drawing board. We
requested they conduct a cost-benefit analysis of this action and substantively
engage with stakeholders.

Unfortunately, the Water Board has so far ignored these
requests.  They have scheduled no new
workshops or any other substantive meetings with stakeholders.  They have prohibited Water Board Members from
even meeting with stakeholders. 
Furthermore, they have stated there will be no cost-benefit analysis
conducted on the permit. 

The Water Board’s resistance occurs in spite of the fact
more than 240 trade agencies, public entities, Legislators and businesses
either testified or sent letters objecting to the Industrial Storm Water
Permit.  Here is an excerpt from the
California Trucking Association’s comments submitted to the State Water Board
in response to their proposal:

"CTA estimates that our
facilities will face at least a 1000% increase in annual costs to comply with
the current draft of the proposed permit. 
In California, the truck and bus rules alone will cost the trucking
industry roughly $6 billion.  Additional
regulatory expenses will only increase the existing regulatory burdens and may
effectively run many California based businesses out-of-state or force them to
shut down permanently."
 

Nearly everyone who commented on the Storm Water permit
agreed that before moving forward with its next draft, the Water Board should
conduct a cost benefit analysis that would:

  • Measure its environmental benefits.
  • Calculate its impact on jobs, the economy and
    the costs it would impose on public agencies and private employers.
  • Identify alternative storm water management
    strategies.

Despite this reasonable request from many Legislators and
stakeholders, I am concerned that Board staff does not plan to conduct any
economic or cost-benefit analysis before issuing its draft permit this summer
.  Incredibly, this means the Water Board will
continue to forge ahead on this permit ignoring the facts presented to them by
schools, local governments, Legislators and businesses that the costs of
implementing this permit would be hundreds of millions of dollars, reduced
funding for schools and local government services, harm to businesses and the
loss of jobs. 

I will continue to stay on top of the SWRCB’s process
with regard to this costly proposal.

Additional information can be found at www.WiseWaterRegs.com.

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