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San Diego Region - Board Meeting Procedures

The Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region (Regional Board) and staff welcome information on issues and matters within the Regional Board's jurisdiction, but comments and submittals at the meeting should be concise and directed to specifics of the item under discussion to enable the Regional Board to be fully informed and take appropriate action.

Persons wishing to speak at the meeting are asked to complete an attendance card and provide it to staff. Although filling out the attendance card is voluntary, we do appreciate receiving a card from all persons in attendance.

Any person planning to make a presentation to the Regional Board that requires the use of visual aids (such as overheads, slides, or video projector) should contact the assigned staff person to make arrangements before the meeting date in order to avoid unnecessary delays during the meeting.

All interested persons may speak at the Regional Board meeting, and are expected to orally summarize their written submittals. Testimony should be presented in writing prior to the meeting and only a summary of pertinent points presented orally. Oral testimony (i.e., direct testimony or comment, as well as cross examination and closing statements) will be limited in time by the Board Chair (typically, for direct testimony, no more than 10 minutes for designated parties and 3 minutes for other interested parties). A timer may be used and speakers are expected to honor the time limits. Oral testimony must be relevant. Where speakers can be grouped by affiliation or interest, such groups will be expected to select a spokesperson and not be repetitive.

Any person may submit comments in writing on any agenda item. Written comments shall not be read into the record unless allowed by the Regional Board Chair. Persons who want to submit written comments, testimony, or evidence on any agenda item must provide such written documents to the Regional Board office in advance of the meeting, by the date and time specified in the applicable Notice of Public Hearing or Meeting. Comments received by the noticed deadline will be included in the administrative record before the Regional Board. Staff may provide responses to comments. Written testimony or comments or evidence submitted after the noticed deadline will not be accepted and will not be incorporated into the administrative record. This rule may be modified at the discretion of the Regional Board Chair, for example, where a party demonstrates that application of the rule would create severe hardship, or where doing so would not prejudice any party. Written materials or other documents submitted at the Regional Board meeting must be provided first to Regional Board counsel who will advise the Regional Board regarding acceptance into the record.

Procedure For Uncontested (Consent) Agenda Items (see also 23 CCR 647.2(f))

Uncontested or consent agenda items are items for which there appears to be no controversy and which can be acted upon by the Regional Board with no discussion. Such items have been properly noticed and all known interested parties consent to the staff recommendation. The Regional Board Chair will recognize late revisions submitted by staff and will then call for a motion and vote by the Regional Board.

If any Regional Board member or member of the public raises a question or issue regarding the item that requires Regional Board discussion, the item may be removed from the consent calendar and considered after all other agenda items have been completed, or in an order determined by the Regional Board Chair. Anyone wishing to contest a consent item on the agenda is expected to appear in person at the Regional Board meeting and explain to the Regional Board the reason the item is contested.

Procedure For Information Items (see also 23 CCR 649 et.seq.)

Information items are items presented to the Regional Board for discussion only and for which no Regional Board action or vote normally is taken. The Regional Board usually will hear only a presentation by staff, but comments by interested persons shall also be allowed. Members of the public wishing to address the Regional Board on the topic under discussion should submit an attendance card beforehand indicating their request to speak to the Regional Board. Comment from the public should be for clarification or to add to the Regional Board's understanding of the item; such comment must not be testimonial in nature or argumentative, as speakers are not under oath and the proceeding is not adversarial. Time limits may be imposed on interested persons.

Procedure For Contested Agenda Items

Contested agenda items are items to which the parties involved have not consented and the staff recommendation is in dispute. Such items require a public hearing that may be formal or informal, as defined by State regulations. At a formal hearing evidence is presented by sworn testimony and staff and other designated parties providing testimony are subject to cross examination. Interested persons may make comments, but may not cross examine designated parties or be cross examined. At informal hearings all parties provide comments, rather than testimony under oath, and persons providing comments are not subject to cross examination. Neither formal nor informal hearings are conducted according to the technical rules of evidence, and the Regional Board will accept any evidence or testimony that is reasonably relevant. The Notice of Public Hearing will state whether the hearing will be conducted as a formal hearing; unless so noticed, the hearing will be conducted as an informal hearing. However, a hearing which is begun as an informal hearing may be converted to a formal hearing at the discretion of the Regional Board Chair in accordance with the applicable regulations.

Contested agenda items that are adjudicative, not quasi legislative, are governed by the rules for adjudicative proceedings. Adjudicative proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the nine regional water quality control boards (RWQCB) are governed by SWRCB regulations as authorized by chapter 4.5 of the Administrative Procedure Act (commencing with section 11400 of the Government Code). SWRCB regulations further provide that, with certain exceptions, adjudicative proceedings will be conducted in accordance with sections 800-805 of the Evidence Code and section 11513 of Chapter 5 of the Government Code (Other provisions of chapter 5 do not apply to adjudicative proceedings before the SWRCB and RWQCB).

SWRCB regulations setting forth the procedures for adjudicative proceedings before the SWRCB and RWQCB are codified in Division 3 of Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations.

An adjudicative proceeding is a hearing to receive evidence for determination of facts pursuant to which the SWRCB or a RWQCB formulates and issues a decision. A decision determines a legal right, duty, privilege, immunity, or other legal interest of a particular person or persons. Examples of adjudicative proceedings include hearings to receive evidence concerning the issuance of waste discharge requirements or National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits; concerning decisions or orders on water right applications, petitions or complaints; concerning cease and desist orders; and, concerning orders setting administrative civil liability.

Rulemaking and informational proceedings, including hearings for the adoption or amendment of regulations, water quality control plans or state policy for water quality control and hearings to gather information to assist the SWRCB and RWQCB in formulating policy for future action, are not adjudicative proceedings and are subject to different procedures (See Procedure For Information Items, above, and Cal. Code Regs., title 23, § 649 et. seq).

When the hearing is formal (as opposed to informal), participants in contested agenda items are either "designated parties" or other "interested persons". Only designated parties will have the right to cross-examination, and may be subject to cross-examination. Interested persons - i.e., nondesignated parties - do not have a right to cross-examination, but may ask the Regional Board to clarify testimony. Interested persons may also be asked to clarify their testimony at the discretion of the Regional Board.

The designated parties include:

  • Staff of the Regional Board
  • Discharger or Responsible Party
  • Persons directly affected by the discharge

All other persons wishing to testify or provide comments for a formal hearing item are "interested persons" and not "designated parties". Such interested persons may request status as a designated party for purposes of the formal hearing by submitting such request in writing to the Regional Board no later than the date specified in the Notice of Public Hearing. The request must explain the basis for status as a designated party and, in particular, how the person is directly affected by the discharge.

All persons testifying must state their name, address, affiliation, and whether they have taken the oath before testifying. The order of testimony for formal hearings generally will be as follows, unless modified by the Regional Board Chair:

  • Testimony and cross-examination of Regional Board staff
  • Testimony and cross-examination of discharger
  • Testimony and cross-examination of other designated parties
  • Testimony of interested persons
  • Closing statement by designated parties other than discharger
  • Closing statement by discharger
  • Closing statement by staff
  • Recommendation by Executive Officer (as appropriate)
  • Close hearing
  • Deliberation and voting by Regional Board

Closing statements shall be for the purpose of summarization and rebuttal, and are not to be used to introduce new evidence or testimony, or to restate direct testimony. After considering evidence, testimony, and comments, the Regional Board may choose to adopt an order regarding a proposed agenda item. All Regional Board files, exhibits, and agenda material pertaining to items on the agenda are made a part of the record. Persons wishing to introduce item exhibits (i.e., maps, charts, photographs) must leave them with the Regional Board's Executive Assistant. Photographs or slides of large exhibits are acceptable.

Any person affected adversely by an action of the Regional Board may petition the SWRCB according to section 13320 of the California Water Code and section 2050 of Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations. The petition should be addressed to the Office of Chief Counsel at the SWRCB and must be filed within 30 days of the action of, or the failure to act by, either the Regional Board or the Executive Officer of the Board. The SWRCB must receive the petition within 30 days of the date of the Regional Board meeting at which the action or failure to act occurred. Copies of the law and regulations applicable for filing petitions (and cited above) will be provided upon request and are available at www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_laws/index.html.

Any questions or comments regarding these procedures may be directed to Christina Blank, Christina.Blank@waterboards.ca.gov in the San Diego office, 2375 Northside Drive #100, San Diego, CA., 92108, phone 619-521-3382.