What you need to know if you received a notice from the Water Board that your facility is ERA Level 1 or Level 2 Status

September 13, 2017

ERA Level 1 Status

Your facility will need a Qualified Industrial Stormwater Practioner (QISP) to perform an ERA Level 1 Assessment, on or before October 1, 2017, and follow up with an ERA Level 1 Technical Report by January 1, 2018, or as soon as is practicable.  We recommend that this assessment and report be performed prior to the wet season of the 2017-18 permit cycle year, to assist dischargers in reviewing their minimum required BMPs and if needed, implement additional BMPs.

ERA Level 2 Status

Review your ERA Level 1 Action Plan now. Is it correct given the additional NAL exceedances?  You should review all items needed for a successful ERA Level 2 Action Plan and Technical Report to successfully reduce and/or eliminate pollutants of concern in stormwater discharge.


Requirements, Actions, Deadlines

Your facility is required to submit an ERA Level 2 Action Plan, prepared by a QISP, which addresses each Level 2 NAL exceedance via SMARTs. This Action Plan must identify which of the three options below (or a combination thereof) of demonstration(s) the Discharger has selected to perform:

  • Industrial Best Management Practice (BMP) Demonstration – Description/evaluation of relevant potential pollutant sources whereby additional Facility BMPs are implemented to comply with all applicable effluent limitations (BAT/BCT, ELGs and/or TMDLs) and to prevent future NAL exceedances (If this is not feasible to implement, you must provide estimated cost and rationale);


  • Non-industrial Pollutant Source Demonstration (run-on from adjacent facilities, aerial deposition). This option allows for a Discharger to demonstrate that the pollutants causing the NAL exceedances are not related to industrial activities conducted at the facility, and additional BMPs at the facility will not contribute to the reduction of pollutant concentrations.  The determination that the sources are not from industrial activity or natural background must be done by a QISP; and


  • Natural Background Pollutant Source Demonstration (e., iron in soils). This option takes its cue from the 2008 Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) whereby and if a Discharger can determine that the exceedance of a benchmark (NAL) is attributable to the presence of that pollutant in the natural background. A Site Plan(s) is very important in this regard which should include, but not limited be to facility locations, available land cover information, reference site and test site elevation, available geology, and soil information for reference and test sites, photographs showing site vegetation, site reconnaissance survey data, and records.


The State Water Board acknowledges that there may be cases where a combination of the demonstrations may be appropriate; therefore a Discharger may combine any of the three demonstration options in their Level 2 ERA Technical Report, when appropriate.

It is important to note that Level 2 is a serious situation under the IGP and you should start working immediately on your stormwater management goals for the ERA Level 2 Action Plan, which is due by January 1, 2018. For the BMP demonstration option, Dischargers may have to implement additional BMPs, which may include physical, structural, or mechanical devices that will reduce and/or eliminate pollutants in stormwater discharge.

The ERA Level 2 Technical Report, which summarizes the option(s) chosen and all relevant technical information, including design storm standards for treatment control BMPs, must be overseen and signed by a California Professional Engineer (PE) and submitted by January 1st, 2019.


Four important considerations in light of the ERA Level 2 exceedances:

    • Your facility Pollution Prevention Team (PPT) and/or consultant hopefully reviewed all the relevant 2016-17 storm water sampling analytical results during the annual report process. It is worth taking another look and reviewing each and every lab report, and look for j-flags, and potential issues during sampling to make sure it is truly an NAL exceedance. If this is an issue, training should also be done fairly soon to ensure proper sampling techniques during the 2017-18 stormwater season.


    • Budgetary: Capital expenditures can take time to get approved. The earlier the compliance-based BMP items are submitted for budgetary approval, the better. This will give the Discharger more flexibility and options for a tiered approach for implementation.


    • Non-government Organizations (NGOs) and Environmental Groups (EGs) are a “de facto” regulatory mechanism, and there has been a proliferation of citizen suits under the Clean Water Act recently. ERA Level 2 Dischargers could be on a short list for non-compliance and have greater exposure.


  • Remember, if you return to Baseline status under the IGP and breach the former ERA Level 2 NALs with a yearly average or instantaneous maximum exceedance(s), your facility returns directly to ERA Level 2. Make sure your BMPs are implemented for the long-term to prevent returning to Level 2 status.



Get help now by contacting an SCS Stormwater Professional near you.





Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:03 am