Regional Water Quality Monitoring Task Force

On June 15, 2012, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (Santa Ana Water Board) adopted the Basin Plan Amendment to Revise Recreation Standards for Inland Freshwaters in the Santa Ana Region (R8-2012-0001). This Basin Plan Amendment resulted in the following key modifications to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Santa Ana River Basin (Basin Plan) for the Santa Ana region:

  • Addition of “Primary Contact Recreation” as an alternative name for the REC1 (water contact recreation) beneficial use;
  • Addition of narrative text clarifying the nature of REC1 activities and the bacteria objectives established to protect these activities;
  • Differentiation of inland surface REC1 waters on the basis of frequency of use and other characteristics for the purposes of assigning applicable single sample maximum values;
  • Revision of REC1/REC2 (non-contact water recreation) designations for specific inland surface waters based on the results of completed Use Attainability Analyses (UAA);
  • Revised water quality objectives to protect the REC1 use of inland freshwaters; and
  • Identification of criteria for temporary suspension of recreation use designations and objectives (high flow suspension).

Santa Ana Water Board staff developed this Basin Plan Amendment in collaboration with the Stormwater Quality Standards Task Force (SWQSTF), comprised of representatives from various stakeholder interests, including the Santa Ana Watershed Protection Authority (SAWPA); the counties of Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino; Orange County Coastkeeper; Inland Empire Waterkeeper; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9. The Basin Plan Amendment was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) on January 21, 2014 and the California Office of Administrative Law on July 2, 2014. The EPA issued its letter of approval/disapproval on April 8, 2015 and provided a letter of clarification on August 3, 2015.

Approval of this Basin Plan Amendment by EPA successfully brought to completion and conclusion the efforts of the Stormwater Quality Standards Task Force and put stakeholders on the clock to establish a comprehensive monitoring program to support implementation of the changes to the Basin Plan.

On October 4, 2016, the SAWPA Commission approved the Regional Water Quality Monitoring Task Force agreement and authorized SAWPA staff to serve as its administrator.  The purpose of this Task Force is to implement a coordinated regional water quality monitoring program in the Santa Ana River watershed to address the implementation plan requirements of the 2012 Basin Plan Amendment to revise recreation standards for inland freshwaters in the Santa Ana region.  This effort by stakeholders combines the separate and disparate bacteria monitoring programs of the three county flood control districts along with the existing bacteria monitoring program under the Middle SAR TMDL Task Force, also administered by SAWPA to eliminate redundancy and streamline reporting of regional monitoring efforts.

As a future consideration, it is intended that this task force will serve as a forum to assist Regional Board with future triennial reviews and future amendments of the Basin Plan.  Additionally, it is anticipated that this Task Force will expand to include other regional monitoring as the need arises.

Agendas, Meeting Notes, Handouts and Presentations

Regional Water Quality Monitoring Task Force meeting are conducted jointly with the Middle Santa Ana River Pathogen TMDL Task Force.

All Agendas, Meeting Notes, Handouts and Presentations associated with this effort are located on the the Middle Santa Ana River Pathogen TMDL webpage.

The Santa Ana River Bacteria Monitoring Program establishes the requirements for bacteria sampling to support the following objectives:

  • Fulfill the monitoring and surveillance requirements for the 2012 adopted Basin Plan Amendment to Revise Recreation Standards for Inland Freshwaters in the Santa Ana Region (approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2015);
  • Conduct sampling to support implementation of the Middle Santa Ana River (MSAR) Bacterial Indicator Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) (“MSAR Bacteria TMDL”); and
  • Support any additional bacterial indicator monitoring that may be conducted in the watershed to support regional regulatory activities.

To meet these objectives, a Monitoring Plan and QAPP were developed in coordination with watershed stakeholders and submitted to the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (Santa Ana Water Board) for review and approval on February 5, 2016. After a period of public review, the Santa Ana Water Board approved the SAR Monitoring Program Monitoring Plan and QAPP on March 11, 2016.