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Inventory of the Water Resources Control Board Records
F3941, R373, R372, R229  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Agency History
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Related Material
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Water Resources Control Board Records
    Inventory: F3941, R373, R372, R229
    Creator: California. State Water Resources Control Board California. State Water Pollution Control Board California. State Water Quality Control Board
    Extent: 145 cubic feet of textual material, 1,150 audiocassettes, 74 slides, 17 microfiches, 5 photo-negatives, 4 floppy disks, and 9 CD-Rom
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Records of the Water Resources Control Board span the years 1949 to 2006 and contain approximately 145.5 cubic feet of textual records, as well as audiovisual materials such as audiocassette tapes, CD-Rom, and Floppy Disks. The records were created by three different records creators: (1) Water Pollution Control Board, 1949-1962; (2) Water Quality Control Board, 1963-1966; and (3) Water Resources Control Board, 1967-2006.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Access

    While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], [Name of Agency] Records, [Record Group number].[series number], [box and folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the State Water Resources Control Board Records according to state law.

    Agency History

    Water Pollution Control Board (1949-1962)
    The Water Pollution Control Board was established in 1949 through the Dickey Act (Chapter 1549, Statutes 1949). In addition to the Pollution Control Board, the Dickey Act created nine Regional Water Pollution Control Boards in each of the major California watersheds to monitor regional activities. Listed by region name and number they are: (1) North Coast, (2) San Francisco Bay, (3) Central Coast, (4) Los Angeles, (5) Central Valley, (6) Lahontan, (7) Colorado River Basin, (8) Santa Ana, and (9) San Diego. The mission of the regional water boards was to preserve and enhance the quality of California's water resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
    The State Water Pollution Control Board coordinated the actions of the various state agencies involved in the regulation and monitoring of water pollution, formulated statewide water quality control policy, allocated appropriated funds to the regional boards, and initiated and managed scientific research and technical programs to establish appropriate water quality policies.
    Water Quality Control Board (1963-1967)
    In 1962 the Pollution Control Board was placed under the jurisdiction of the Resources Agency. Following year, the name of the board was changed to the State Water Quality Control Board (WQCB), reflecting a change in the perspective of the board members and the Resources Agency toward the need for a comprehensive approach to water pollution and water contamination. In 1964 the WQCB was appointed as the administrative agent of the Federal Construction Grants Program (Public Law 84-660) for the State of California, beginning a long-standing relationship with the federal government.
    The WQCB was administered by four to six appointed members and their contracted consultants. The Board created state water quality policy and oversaw an ongoing research and technical development program. The WQCB continued to oversee the nine regional boards, whose main responsibility was the implementation of the state's water quality control policies through the formation of water quality control plans and the establishment and enforcement of water discharge requirements. Each regional board had nine part-time members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Regional Boards developed "basin plans" for their hydrologic areas, issued waste discharge requirements, took enforcement action against violators, and monitored water quality.
    Water Resources Control Board (1967 -)
    The scope of the Board's responsibilities broadened in 1967 (Chapter 1446, Statutes 1967) to include the establishment of an interagency system for the control of water discharge. That December, the State Water Rights Board, whose functions derived from the Water Commission Act, and the State Water Quality Control Board merged into a new board called the State Water Resources Control Board (WRCB) (Chapter 284, Statutes 1967). Additionally, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Chapter 482, Statutes 1969) substantially increased the authority and scope of both the state and regional boards, strengthening their regulatory capacity and funding, as well as providing for the creation of comprehensive water quality control plans in each of the nine regions. These plans were ultimately completed in 1975. With the implementation of the Porter-Cologne Act, the WRCB expanded its definition of the beneficial uses of water to include long-term conservation and environmental protection.
    Since its formation, the Water Resources Control Board has consisted of five full-time salaried members. Together, board members share responsibility for allocating water rights, adjudicating water-rights disputes, developing statewide water protection plans, establishing water quality standards, and directing the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
    The main responsibilities of the newly created board were divided into three main concentrations: (1) water rights, (2) water quality, and (3) planning and research. To effectively address these three areas, in 1968 the WRCB divided into five administrative units: the Executive Office, the Division of Administrative Services, the Division of Water Rights, the Division of Legal Affairs, and, inherited from the WQCB, the San Francisco Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Program. From its inception to the present, the WRCB has regularly added, dropped, and redefined the various offices and divisions that comprise its body. In 2013, the Executive Office, the Administrative Services Division, and the Water Rights Division were all that remained from the original roster.
    Executive Office
    Since 1968, the mission of the Executive Office has been to execute and oversee administration of the water quality and water rights laws in the California Water Code. Executive Office activities generally include conducting board business meetings, managing the department's programs and budget, and organizing and evaluating State and Regional Board programs and activities to ensure adequacy, efficiency, and economically consistent results.
    Division of Administrative Services
    The Division of Administrative Services performs all "housekeeping" activities for the Water Resources Control Board, including accounting, purchasing, personnel, training, filing, reception, and statistical services.
    Division of Water Rights
    Formerly the State Water Rights Board, the Division of Water Rights was created when its predecessor organization and the State Water Quality Control Board merged in 1968. The Water Rights Division focuses primarily on water dispute arbitration, license and permit authorization, water rights policies enforcement, Water Transfer Program and Water Quality Certification Program management, and civil liability complaint actions administration.
    For more information on the Division of Water Rights, see the Water Rights Board Records, 1915-1986 (R374), which include records from the State Water Rights Board, 1956-1967, the Department of Public Works, Division of Water Resources, 1921-1956, and the State Water Commission's water-rights related work, 1913-1921.
    San Francisco Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Program
    In 1965, the Water Pollution Control Law (Chapter 1351, Statutes 1965) initiated one of California's most ambitious water programs to date: the San Francisco Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Program (Bay-Delta Plan).
    Completed in 1973, the Bay-Delta Plan fulfilled five strategic objectives: 1) to develop a fifty-year comprehensive plan for waste disposal systems to serve the San Francisco Bay and San Joaquin Delta; 2) to plan for collection, treatment (including reclamation), and disposal of municipal and industrial wastewaters; 3) to provide for maintenance and enhancement of water quality, while allowing for California's steady population growth and industrial development; 4) to identify forms of governmental authority best equipped to implement the plan; and 5) to determine a fair apportionment of costs for development, construction, and operation of a regional system of wastewater works.
    Given the magnitude of the program's scope, the State Board, serving in a supervisorial capacity, coordinated the efforts of various public and private organizations to which it had contracted major portions of the program to. State agencies included: the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Fish and Game. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission also conducted important studies in service to the program. From the private sector, Kaiser Engineers led a diverse association of engineering and financial firms which conducted studies, drafted proposals, and performed other necessary functions unavailable through State government. At the national level, the Bay-Delta Plan compelled the Water Resources Control Board to also maintain close working relationships with the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration, the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
    Initially, the Executive Office handled the legislative and public functions of the WRCB. But in 1981, the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (OLPA) was created specifically to address these areas. OLPA activities included legislative bill proposals, bill analyses, and legislative interactions on bills affecting the operations of the WRCB. OLPA also provided input on all press activities and news releases relating to Board activities affecting water policy in the State of California.
    In 2007, the OLPA was dissolved and its responsibilities were split between two offices: the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of Public Affairs.
    Chief Counsel
    Initially called the Division of Legal Affairs, the Office of the Chief Counsel was created in the early 1980s to provide legal services and advice to the WRCB and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards regarding administration and protection of the waters of the State of California.
    Division of Clean Water Programs
    The Division of Clean Water Programs (DCWP) was created in the early 1990s. Among its other functions, the DCWP was also tasked with issuing loans and grants for the construction and maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities throughout the state. Initially, the Division of Water Quality (DWQ), created in 1969, was tasked with these administrative duties in addition to its many other responsibilities. But in the mid-1980s, the Division of Clean Water Grants (DCWG) was formed strictly for this purpose, allowing the DWQ to focus on water quality issues. In 1988, the Division of Loans and Grants was formed alongside the DCWG to respond to an increased demand by cities and counties for State Revolving Loan Program Funds. By the end of the decade, the two divisions were consolidated into the Division of Loans, Tanks, and Land Disposal, which was soon succeeded by the Division of Clean Water Programs. In addition to administering State Revolving Funds and Small Community Grants for the development of state and local water infrastructure, the DCWP had various missions ranging from:
    Administering a program for the cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at military bases.
    Regulating underground storage tank (UST) facilities.
    Developing UST regulations and providing guidance and training to users and local regulators.
    Licensing UST testers.
    Establishing Federal financial responsibility requirements for operators and owners of petroleum USTs.
    Regulating aboveground tanks, cleanup, and abatement.
    Certifying wastewater treatment operators.
    The DCWP operated until 2004 when it was replaced and its administrative duties inherited by the Division of Financial Assistance.

    Scope and Content

    The Records of the Water Resources Control Board span the years 1949 to 2006 and contain approximately 145.5 cubic feet of textual records, as well as audiovisual materials such as audiocassette tapes, CD-Rom, and Floppy Disks. The records were created by three different records creators: (1) Water Pollution Control Board, 1949-1962; (2) Water Quality Control Board, 1963-1966; and (3) Water Resources Control Board, 1967-2006. The Water Resources Control Board records are further divided into their five sub-creators: (1) Executive Office, (2) Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (including its predecessor), (3) Office of the Chief Counsel (including its predecessor), (4) Division of Clean Water Programs (including its predecessors), and (5) San Francisco Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Program.
    Researchers with an interest in the history of water quality control, water rights, and environmental policy on both state and regional levels will find the Water Resources Control Board records particularly useful. The records reveal how the scope and responsibilities of the board changed and expanded each time it was renamed. Under the Water Pollution Control Board, Verbatim Records is the strongest series, illuminating exactly what transpired at meetings. The WPCB Regional Board Meeting Files are just as important, granting researchers access to the regional boards' management of water quality policy enforcement activities in designated areas throughout the state. Under the Water Quality Control Board, Project Proposals highlight various water quality improvement projects that took place during the Board's tenure.
    Records of the Executive Office contain administrative records that reveal important actions of the Water Resources Control Board. The largest series in the collection, Board Meeting and Workshop Files address the public's concerns and review the progress of projects involving chemical risks, water conservation, salinity, and wastewater. Plans and Program Committee Files, Water Quality Committee Files, and Water Rights Committee Files all demonstrate how WRCB committees contributed to policy and regulations at the regional, state, and federal levels.
    Records from the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs demonstrate the WRCB's influence on California's progressive environmental policies. Bill Files in particular, spanning from 1975 to 2000, provide researchers with a comprehensive assortment of the Board's legislative contributions across the last quarter of the twentieth century.
    Records from the Office of the Chief Counsel reveal the legal intricacies of the WRCB. Of interest to legal scholars, Litigation Files document the administration of the Board's defense in the Appellate Court Case, Lake Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. State Water Resources Control Board in the 1980s.
    Records from the Division of Clean Water Programs and Division of Water Quality chronicle the evolution of California's water-infrastructure funding methods and procedures. The files also detail the processes by which cities, counties, and regions of varying sizes and population densities received funding from 1956 to 2000. Clean Water Grant Program Files, which fall under the Division of Water Quality, State Revolving Fund Files, and Small Community Grant Files provide researchers with convenient comparisons and contrasts of the Board's various financial aid programs.
    Records from the San Francisco Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Program detail the years of the landmark project. A massive multifaceted undertaking, the Bay-Delta Plan involved several state and federal agencies, many city and regional boards, and numerous private contractors, all working under the direction of the State Water Resources Control Board. Researchers will find Task Force Correspondence and Regional and County Projects Meeting Files especially demonstrative of the magnitude of the program's coordinated efforts. They will likewise find that Project Reports and Proposal Studies offer an insightful look into the history of water quality control efforts in the state of California.

    Accruals

    Further accruals are expected.

    Related Material

    California Environmental Protection Agency
    Department of Water Resources
    State Water Rights Board

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    California. State Water Pollution Control Board
    California. State Water Quality Control Board
    California. State Water Resources Control Board