California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Partnership 2000

Coordinating with RWQCBs and AQMDs, What You Might Want to Know

Regulation of California's landfills is primarily shared among the following agencies:

  • State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) promulgates water quality protection regulations that are enforced at the local level by nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCBs).
  • California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) promulgates regulations for other aspects of solid waste disposal. These regulations are enforced at the local level by 54 Local Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) or the CIWMB when serving as the EA.
  • 35 air districts have primary authority to regulate emissions from landfills and are responsible for developing and enforcing air quality regulations. The Air Resources Board (ARB) provides technical support to the districts and oversees local district compliance with State and federal law.

The Landfill Facility Compliance Study was initiated by the CIWMB to develop a comprehensive picture of municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill environmental performance across all environmental media as well as an assessment of current MSW landfill regulatory effectiveness in controlling environmental impacts. The CIWMB contracted with GeoSyntec Consultants to conduct the independent study, which was brought to a close in June 2004, with the completion of the final report, Landfill Facility Compliance Study Task 8 Report - Summary of Findings and Comprehensive Recommendations. One of the key findings of the Landfill Facility Compliance Study was the need for greater coordination among regulators in implementing recommendations from the study than is currently done under existing regulations. This is supported by the following additional findings, which show the need for LEAs, RWQCBs, and air districts to coordinate with one another in the design, installation, and operation of landfill-gas control and monitoring systems:

  • Majority of groundwater contaminations resulted from gas migration rather than leachate.
  • Using a buffer for dealing with explosive gas may not help with groundwater contamination resulting from gas migration.

Coordination is already occurring to some degree, but it is unclear to what extent and in what program areas. To better understand what is currently happening in the area of coordination between the RWQCBs, LEAs, and air districts, Joe Mello, Manager of the SWRCB's Land Disposal Program, and Bobbie Garcia with the CIWMB met with RWQCBs at their quarterly round table meeting, and met with LEA staff at each of the following meetings: quarterly round tables, Enforcement Advisory Council (EAC), and California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH) Solid Waste Committee. At these meetings, RWQCB and LEA staff were asked the following questions:

  • What is currently happening?
  • Do they see a need for more coordination? If so, where?
  • What works and could be used by others?

The purpose of the session on coordination was to provide everyone a brief overview of what Joe and Bobbie have learned from their discussions with RWQCBs and LEAs, including the range of coordination currently taking place, what's transpired since the effort was initiated, and possible approaches that are currently in use and could be used by others. One approach that appears to be working well in Southern California that could be used by others is the use of quarterly coordination meetings between the LEA, RWQCB, SCAQMD, and the landfill operator. To help everyone better understand the how, what, where, and benefits of quarterly coordination meetings, a panel consisting of representatives from the RWQCB, LEA, and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) provided real world experience with quarterly meetings.

Session Panel:

  • John Odermatt, RWQCB in San Diego, Supervisor Land Disposal Program
  • Patti Henshaw, Supervisor, Orange County LEA
  • David Jones, SCAQMD, Supervisor of Air Quality Analysis and Compliance for Toxics and Waste Management Team in Engineering and Compliance Division

I. Introduction and Overview of Current Coordination Effort (15 minutes)

Brief overview by Joe Mello and Bobbie Garcia using PowerPoint Presentation.

II. Explanation of Each Regulator's Role and Discussion of Quarterly Coordination Meetings (35 minutes)

Each panelist explained their role in regulating landfills and provided their perspective on the use of quarterly coordination meetings, including how they were initiated, how they work, and what benefits have been realized. Panelist's used PowerPoint Presentation and/or slides (sample agenda, example of meeting minutes, and list of benefits).

III. Question/Answer/Discussion from audience (10 minutes)

Last updated: August 31, 2005
LEA Conference, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/LEA/Conference/
Melissa Hoover-Hartwick: Melissa.Hoover-Hartwick@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6813