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The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted the Statewide Sanitary Sewer Systems General Order (General Order) Reissuance at its December 6, 2022 meeting. As reported in a Somach Simmons & Dunn news alert in May of 2022 (available here), the State Water Board released an Informal Staff Draft of the revised General Order in February of 2021 containing new requirements to address sanitary sewer overflows, which significantly broadened the regulatory scope of the existing General Order and raised concerns regarding the substantial commitment of time and resources required for compliance.
Following the solicitation and incorporation of stakeholder input and public comments, State Water Board staff issued a final General Order on October 28, 2022. Although significant revisions were made in response to comments, general concerns remained regarding the financial burden on entities to comply and the timelines provided for compliance and reporting, in addition to concerns of unspecific language and internal inconsistencies. In advance of the adoption hearing on December 6, staff issued additional changes in response to public comments, which are contained in two Change Sheets distributed with the General Order. The Board made further changes at the adoption hearing in response to oral comments before adopting the final order, including a commitment to provide administrative assistance for implementation of the order.
Commenters at the hearing thanked the State Water Board for its willingness to engage in an iterative process and to involve the public and stakeholders to address concerns regarding the ability of affected entities to comply without sacrificing the intended regulatory purpose of the General Order. Nevertheless, the adopted General Order is a substantial change from the current regulatory program and will demand a significant undertaking by regulated entities. The General Order becomes effective in early May of 2023.
A copy of the proposed final General Order and the two change sheets are linked in the State Water Board’s December 6, 2022 Board meeting agenda, available here. For an overview of changes made at the hearing, the State Water Board read additional changes into the record in the following video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT1zEoH_1is&t=32308s.
For specific questions regarding the provisions of and compliance with the General Order, or for more information about the adoption process, please contact water quality attorney Michelle Chester at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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