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New Policy to Make SWPPPs More Available

By: Mary Lynn K. Coffee

A significant policy event has occurred with respect to construction storm water compliance. Click on "Full Story" to view the text from a recent memo from the EO of the State Water Resources Control Board to the Regional Water Boards requesting that they respond promptly to environmental group requests for access to Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) that are prepared for individual construction sites.

Current General Construction Permit requirements state that these SWPPPs need only be available on-site (except for Lake Tahoe and the San Jacinto Watershed which require submittal to the regional board) for regulatory review. This memo will push the regional water boards to request submittal of SWPPPs from individual construction site operators to the Board when the SWPPP is being requested for review by an environmental group or any other member of the public. This policy will make it easier for private citizens and environmental groups to bring actions under the Clean Water Act for inadequate SWPPPs and technical violations of the General Construction Activities Permit. As a result, more heightened attention should be paid to assuring that all construction sites greater than one acre have adequate, site and construction project specific SWPPPs.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email Mary Lynn K. Coffee at (949) 833-7800 or

TO: Regional Water Board Executive Officers and Assistant Executive Officers [via email only]

FROM: Celeste Cantu, Executive Director

DATE: June 7, 2005


I am writing to request that you promptly respond to requests by environmental groups and members of the public for access to storm water management plans (SWMPs) and storm water pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) that are prepared pursuant to requirements in storm water permits. Upon a request for a SWMP or SWPPP that is not currently in the possession of your staff, you should promptly ask the discharger to submit the document, and then make it available to the person requesting it.

The current statewide general permits do not require that all SWPPPs be submitted to Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Board), but they do clarify that these are public documents. Moreover, the State Water Resources Control Board has specifically stated, in the Fact Sheet for the Construction General Permit, that Regional Water Boards will make SWPPPs available upon request. There is significant public interest in storm water issues, and it is important to ensure public participation and involvement in these critical water quality issues. Therefore, please instruct your staff to promptly respond to requests by obtaining SWPPPs or SWMPs and providing these to members of the public and groups who request them. Should a request be for voluminous documents, of course your response will consider your other workload priorities.

When providing copies of SWPPPs and SWIVIPs, you should follow your usual procedures for allowing members of the public to copy materials and for charging for copies made by your staff.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Elizabeth Miller Jennings at (916) 341-5175.

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