Chapter 16.24


16.24.010    Title.

16.24.020    Definitions.

16.24.030    Increase in turbidity.

16.24.040    Increase in settleable solids.

16.24.050    Exemptions.

16.24.055    Approvals.

16.24.058    Violations.

16.24.060    Investigation and enforcement.

16.24.070    Penalties.

16.24.010 Title.

This chapter shall be known as the “water quality control ordinance of the County of Santa Cruz.” [Ord. 2021, 1974].

16.24.020 Definitions.

“Administrator” means the Director of Health Services or his designated representative.

“Board of Supervisors” means the Board of Supervisors in its capacity as both the governing legislative body of the County and the governing body of Santa Cruz County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 4.

“Body of water” means any lake or lagoon of natural origin and all rivers, streams or creeks within Santa Cruz County except those which flow only in direct response to precipitation and receive no continued water supply from springs or other surface sources.

“Natural conditions of settleable solids” means the amount of settleable solids found in the water immediately upstream of the affected area of the body of water at the time the violation is discovered.

“Natural turbidity” means the level of turbidity found in the water immediately upstream of the affected area of the body of water at the time the violation is discovered. The level of turbidity shall be measured in turbidity units by any of the methods prescribed in Standard Methods of the Examination of Water and Wastewater (13th Edition, 1971, or the most recent subsequent edition) published by the American Public Health Association.

“Person” means any individual, corporation, commercial enterprise, or public agency subject to the jurisdiction of this chapter.

“Settleable solids” means the total amount of matter, by weight or volume, which will not stay suspended in a given volume of water sample during a preselected settling period, such as one hour, but either settles to the bottom or floats to the top.

“Turbidity” means the degree of opaqueness produced in water by suspended particulate matter. [Ord. 2021, 1974].

16.24.030 Increase in turbidity.

Except as prescribed in SCCC 16.24.050, it shall be unlawful to increase the turbidity of any portion of any body of water in the following amounts:

(A)    When natural turbidity measures between zero and 50 turbidity units, the increase shall not exceed 20 percent of natural turbidity;

(B)    When natural turbidity measures between 50 and 100 units, turbidity may not be increased more than 10 units above natural turbidity;

(C)    When natural turbidity measures above 100 units, the increase shall not exceed 10 percent of natural turbidity. [Ord. 2021, 1974].

16.24.040 Increase in settleable solids.

Except as prescribed in SCCC 16.24.050, it shall be unlawful to increase settleable solids in any portion of any body of water in Santa Cruz County more than 0.5 milliliters per liter per hour above natural conditions of settleable solids. [Ord. 2021, 1974].

16.24.050 Exemptions.

(A)    Any person who, prior to undertaking any activity affecting a body of water:

(1)    Properly and timely files either a negative impact statement or an environmental impact report which adequately enumerates the adverse impact or impacts which the activity may have upon any body of water; and

(2)    Obtains authorization from the County Planning Department or the Planning Commission of Santa Cruz County to proceed with the activity in question as permitted or required by law; and

(3)    Strictly complies with all the terms and conditions of his permit or other entitlement;

shall be deemed to have complied with the provisions of this chapter. A violation of the terms and conditions of the permit or other entitlement shall be deemed a violation of this chapter.

(B)    No person shall be held to have violated this chapter for doing any act or acts affecting a body of water if:

(1)    The act or acts performed do not require a permit or other entitlement from any Federal, State or local agency; and

(2)    Said act or acts:

(a)    Involve crossing a stream whether on foot or by vehicular means, at a natural fording place; or

(b)    Are performed without mechanical devices of any kind. [Ord. 2021, 1974].

16.24.055 Approvals.

(A)    Any person who proposes to do any act or acts which may result in stream turbidity in excess of the standards contained in SCCC 16.24.030 and 16.24.040 and who is not exempt pursuant to SCCC 16.24.050 may apply in writing to the Administrator for an approval to proceed. The applicant’s request shall specify the actions to be taken and the purposes for taking such actions. Within 14 days of the receipt of such application, the Administrator shall act upon said application and may grant the approval with necessary and appropriate conditions if he finds that the proposed action will not be detrimental to the affected body of water or that the acts would ultimately preserve or improve the viability and health of the affected body of water.

(B)    Any protection measures proposed by the State Department of Fish and Game or any final decision of a panel of arbitrators issued pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 1603 and any successor provisions, or written discharge requirements established by the Regional Water Quality Control Board shall constitute a permit under this section if the Administrator so specifies in writing on the Fish and Game permit or discharge requirement order.

(C)    Any decision of the Administrator denying a permit under this section may be appealed to the Board of Supervisors by the applicant within seven days by filing a written notice of appeal with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. Notice of the hearing of said appeal shall be sent to the Administrator and to the Santa Cruz County Fish and Game Advisory Commission. [Ord. 4496-C § 88, 1998; Ord. 3440 § 1, 1983; Ord. 2021, 1974].

16.24.058 Violations.

It shall be unlawful for any person whether as owner, principal, agent, or employee or otherwise to perform an action or allow a situation to continue that violates the provisions of this chapter or violates any permit conditions required pursuant to this chapter. All violations shall be punishable in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 18.10 SCCC except where specified elsewhere in this chapter. [Ord. 3440 § 2, 1983].

16.24.060 Investigation and enforcement.

The primary responsibility for all necessary investigation, water quality sampling, interviewing, and other methods of gathering evidence is hereby delegated to the Administrator. [Ord. 2021, 1974].

16.24.070 Penalties.

The penalties for violation of, or failure to comply with, this chapter shall be a misdemeanor as prescribed in Chapter 1.12 SCCC, except that the maximum fine for each separate violation of this chapter shall be $1,000. [Ord. 4496-C § 89, 1998; Ord. 2021, 1974].