California Supreme Court To Review Ruling on Discharge Permit Fees

The California Supreme Court has granted a petition from the California Building Industry Association to review a state appeals court ruling that total fees collected from waste discharges must match the costs of regulating the entire waste-discharge permit program, rather than matching stormwater fees to the costs of the stormwater program.

Currently, permit fees paid to State Water Resources Control Board — in compliance with Section 13260 of the state water code — must equal the amount necessary to recover program costs, including those for enforcement, administration, and monitoring. But the building association had claimed that the stormwater permit fees violate Section 13260 of the water quality act because the revenue generated is higher than the amount necessary to regulate the stormwater program.

The appeals court ruled on the side of the State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the board’s fee schedule complied with Section 13260. The appeals court concluded that the building association did not demonstrate that the fees were greater than the costs of the discharge program or that the allocation to the stormwater program was unreasonable.

In presenting their case to the California Supreme Court, the building association raised a number of questions, arguing that review is necessary to ensure that fees are limited to the costs of the service or the regulatory activity for which the fees are charged.

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