[Reprinted from the ALBANY LAW REVIEW, Volume 35, No. 1, 1970]
Water Quality Control:
A Modern Approach to State Regulation*
Frank E. Maloney and Richard C. A usness *
The American public of late has shown increasing concern over the
quality of the environment.1 Water pollution has long been recognized
as a major threat to a better environment. Municipal, industrial, and
agricultural, operations all contribute to the pollution problem. Munici-
palities empty millions of gallons of inadequately-treated sewage into the
nation's rivers and streams. Municipal wastes are almost'exclusively or-
ganic in nature. Currently municipal wastes are estimated to average
about ten million tons annually while industrial pollution averages ap-
proximately fifteen million tons.2 Treatment in general is technologically
feasible; the primary impediment is financial inability on the part of
municipalities to initiate effective abatement measures. Industrial pollution,
both organic and inorganic, involves even greater volumes of effluent than
municipal operations. The situation is aggravated by the fact that treat-
ment for inorganic industrial wastes is generally more complex and costly
than the processes available for treatment of organic matter.3 Agriculture
contributes to the impairment of water quality through confinement live-
stock feeding operations and the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and
The preparation of this article has been supported by the Office of Water Resources
Research, United States Department of the Interior, as authorized under the Water Resources
Research Act of 1964, Public Law 88-379. It is part of a chapter of the Model Water
Code, which will be published as a book in the near future.
** Frank E. Maloney, B.A. 1940, University of Toronto; J.D. 1942, University of
Florida; Chairman, Water Law Subcommittee of the Florida Bar, 1956-1963; Counsel
to the Florida Water Resources Study Commission, 1957; Principal Investigator, Water Law
Studies of the University of Florida Water Resources Research Center, 1965-1970; Pro-
fessor of Law, University of Florida, 1946-1970; Visiting Professor of Law, Vanderbilt
University School of Law.
*** Richard C. Ausness, B.A. 1966, University of Florida; J.D. 1968, University of
Florida; Assistant Professor of Law, University of Florida.
1 See generally, Muskie, Environmental Jurisdiction in Congress and The Executive, 22
MAINE L. REV. 171, 171-76 (1970).
2 Nebolsine, Today's Problems of Industrial Waste Water Pollution Abatement, 1 NAT.
RESOURCES LAWYER 39, 40 (1968).
8 Hines, Controlling Industrial Water Pollution: Color the Problem Green, 9 B.C. IND.
& COM. L. REV. 553, 562 (1968).
4 Hines, Nor Any Drop to Drink: Public Regulation of Water Quality, Part I: State
Pollution Control Problems, 52 IOWA L. REV. 186, 193 (1966).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
THE MODEL WATER CODE
A Model Water Code has been drafted at the University of Florida in
an attempt to provide a vehicle for comprehensive state regulation of water
resources. The Code consists of six chapters. The first creates a two-tiered
administrative system comprised of a State Water Resources Board and a
number of regional water management districts administered by governing
boards. This chapter also provides for a comprehensive state water plan
while chapter two establishes a permit system for the regulation of con-
sumptive uses of water. Chapter three provides for well construction
standards and the licensing of the well drilling industry. Chapter four
governs the construction of dams, impoundments and appurtenant works.
Chapter five is concerned with water quality. Some of the prominent
features of this portion of the Code are a water quality plan and the water
quality standards contained therein; 5 construction permits for new outlets,
disposal systems and treatment works; 6 discharge permits; 7 and the various
enforcement powers available to both the state and local agencies.8 Chap-
ter six is an optional chapter on weather modification.
CHAPTER FIVE: WATER QUALITY REGULATION
This article introduces chapter five of the proposed Model Water Code
as a basis for a state program of water quality control. Although the
authors have designed it as part of an overall scheme for the regulation of
water use and quality under a comprehensive state water plan, this chapter
can be treated in many respects as a self-contained unit and it is on this
basis that chapter five is offered in this form.
The text of each numbered section of the Code is followed by detailed
commentary setting forth the origin or origins of the section and the reasons
why the authors chose the particular approach adopted therein. A complete
copy of chapter five of the Code without commentary is included at the
end of the article.
When appearing in this code or in any regulation adopted pursuant
thereto, the following words shall mean:
(1) Water Quality-Chemical, physical, biological, bacteriological,
radiological, and other properties and characteristics of water which
may affect its use.
COMMENTARY. Under the Model Water Code the state and local
agency must act not only to control pollution, but also to protect and im-
5 MODEL WATER CODE 5.04-5.05.
e Id. at 5.07.
7 Id. at 5.08.
SId. at 5.12-5.15.
30 ALBANY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 35
prove water quality. The definition of water quality above is taken from a
California statute,9 which in turn is based upon language in the definition
of "pollution" in the Suggested State Water Pollution Control Act drafted
by HEW (hereinafter referred to as the Suggested State Act).1O The
California definition and subsection (1) should be read in connection with
the term, as "water quality" is used in the definition of pollution in 5.01
(2) Impairment of water quality-Any act or condition, including
but not limited to pollution, which temporarily or permanently reduces,
or threatens to reduce, water quality below the level established by
the state board pursuant to this code.
COMMENTARY. This subsection requires reference to the definition
of water quality in 5.01 (1). "Water quality" is a broader term than
pollution and is inclusive of the latter as defined in 5.01 (3). Impairment
of water quality must be ascertained by reference to the state water quality
plan under sections 5.04 and 5.05. This definition is original.
(3) Pollution-Any alteration of water quality, including change of
temperature, taste, color, turbidity, or odor of the waters, or the
addition of liquid, solid, radioactive, gaseous, or other substances to
the waters or the removal of such substances from the waters which
will render or is likely to render the waters harmful to the public
health, safety, or welfare, industrial, agricultural, recreational or
other lawful uses or to animals, birds or aquatic life.
COMMENTARY. Under most pollution control statutes the definition
of pollution is of critical importance. In many states the regulatory agency
cannot act to protect water quality until pollution is imminent or actually
occurring. However, pollution is merely one aspect of the broader prob-
lem of water quality control. A statute which regulates only pollution
will provide very little in the way of comprehensive planning, and will
merely direct itself toward reducing existing pollution without effecting any
preventive measures. Today, due to the influence of federal law, there is
less emphasis on definitions of pollution, and increasing reliance on specific
water quality standards."
The HEW Suggested State Act has defined pollution very broadly.12
However, most states have adopted somewhat more limited definitions of
pollution 13 or have created exemptions for specific industries.?4 Under the
9 CAL. WATER CODE 13050 (g) (1956).
1o DIVISION OF WATER SUPPLY & POLLUTION CONTROL, U.S. DEP'T OF HEALTH, EDUCATION
& WELFARE, SUGGESTED STATE WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT, REVISED 2 (a) (1965)
[hereinafter cited as SUGGESTED STATE ACT].
11 SAx, WATER LAW PLANNING & POLICY 390 (1968).
12 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 2 (a); see also ILL. ANN. STAT. ch. 19, 145.2 (a) (1963).
13 E.g., W. VA. CODE 2312 (28) (f.) (Cum. Supp. 1964).
14 E.g., MICH. STAT. ANN. 3.532 (1965); OHIO REV. CODE 6111.04 (c) (Baldwin 1964).
W _-~ ^"--^ ~
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
California definition of pollution, for example, there is no "pollution" un-
less (1) "Waters of the state" are affected, (2) the effect is caused by a
present discharge of "sewage or industrial waste" and (3) the state waters
are not only adversely but also "unreasonably" affected for beneficial uses,
excluding, however, consideration of any health hazard. This latter ex-
clusion exists because, under the California law, "pollution" is distinguished
from "contamination," which is confined, in state waters, to the creation
of an actual health hazard.15
The definition of pollution is not of overriding importance in the Model
Water Code because the agency's regulatory powers are not dependent
upon a finding of pollution. Pollution is merely one form of water quality
impairment, although additional remedies, such as suit for civil damages,
and in some cases, summary abatement, are available to the regulatory
agency when pollution, as defined in this subsection, is found to exist. It
should be noted that under the Model Water Code pollution includes
removal as well as discharge of a substance into waters of the state. This
definition of pollution was taken almost directly from a Georgia statute,le
which in turn was modeled after the Suggested State Act.17
(4) Wastes-Sewage, industrial wastes, and all other wastes, liquid,
gaseous, solid, or radioactive, which may affect water quality.
COMMENTARY. This definition, along with the remaining sub-
sections in section 5.01 are used in connection with section 5.07 concerning
construction permits for outlets, disposal systems, and treatment plants.
The broader term, "substance," is used in connection with discharge permits
under section 5.08. The term "wastes" includes sewage, industrial wastes,
and other wastes which are all defined elsewhere in section 5.01. This defi-
nition is adopted from the Suggested State Act.18 However, the reference to
pollution is replaced in the Model Water Code by a reference to water
(5) Sewage-Any and all waste substance, liquid or solid, associated
with human habitation, or which contains or may be contaminated
with human or animal excreta or excrement, offal or any feculent mat-
COMMENTARY. This definition was taken from the California water
quality control act.19 The term is also defined in many other state statutes 20
but does not appear in the Suggested State Act.
15 GINDLER, WATERS AND WATER RIGHTS 228.2 (B) at 222-23 (Clark ed. 1967).
16 GA. ANN. CODE 17-503 (f) (Supp. 1969).
17 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 2 (a).
18 Id. at 2 (b).
19 CAL. WATER CODE 13005 (1956) (repealed by CAL. STAT. ch. 482, 17 (1969)).
20 E.g., S. C. CODE 70-102 (4) (1962); GA. ANN. CODE 17-503 (g) (Supp. 1969);
N. Y. PUBLIC HEALTH LAW 1202 (d) (McKinney Supp. 1970).
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
(6) Industrial waste-Any and all solid, liquid or gaseous substances,
excluding sewage, resulting from any producing, manufacturing or
processing operations of whatever nature or from the development of
any natural resource.
COMMENTARY. This definition was taken in modified form from
California.21 Although not defined in the Suggested State Act, the term is
found in a number of state water pollution control statutes.22
(7) Other waste-Garbage, municipal refuse, chemicals and all other
substances which are not sewage or industrial waste which may pollute
the waters of the state.
COMMENTARY. This term was included as a miscellaneous category
to encompass all wastes not included within the definitions of sewage or
industrial waste. The definition was taken from the Iowa statute.23
(8) Sewage system-Pipelines or conduits, pumping stations, and
force mains, and all other structures, devices, appurtenances and
facilities used for conducting wastes to an ultimate point for treatment
COMMENTARY. This definition was taken from a provision of the
Florida pollution control statute24 which in turn was derived from the
Suggested State Act.25
(9) Treatment works-Any plant or other works used for the purpose
of treating, stabilizing or holding wastes.
COMMENTARY. This term appears in various state statutes 26 as
well as the Suggested State Act.27
(10) Disposal system-Any system for disposing of wastes, either
by surface or underground methods, including sewage systems, treat-
ment works, disposal wells and other systems.
COMMENTARY. This subsection was taken directly from the Sug-
gested State Act.28
(11) Outlet-The terminus of a sewer system, or the point of
emergence of any sewage, industrial waste, or other wastes or the
effluent therefrom, into the waters of the state.
21 CAL. WATER CODE 13005 (1956) (repealed by CAL. STAT. ch. 482, 17 (1969)).
22 See, e.g., IOWA CODE ANN. 455 B.2 (2) (West Supp. 1969); MICH. COMPILED LAWS
ANN. 323.351 (b) (1967); TENN. CODE ANN. 70-301 (Supp. 1969).
23 IOWA CODE ANN. 455 B.2 (3) (West Supp. 1969).
24 FLA. STAT. 403.031 (8) (1967).
25 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 2 (c).
28 E.g., FLA. STAT. 403.031 (7) (1967), N.Y. PUBLIC HEALTH LAW 1202 (j) (McKinrMy
27 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 2 (d).
28 Id. at 2 (e).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
COMMENTARY. This definition is taken verbatim from a North
5.02 Exception of Atmospheric Moisture
No provision of this chapter shall apply to moisture contained in the
COMMENTARY. This provision has been inserted to negate any
control over air pollution under this chapter that might otherwise be in-
ferred from the inclusion of atmospheric moisture in the broad definition
of waters of the state contained in 1.03 (8).30 In some jurisdictions, the
agency responsible for water quality and pollution control is vested with
authority for air pollution as well.31 However, it was felt that water quality
should be regulated by the same agency that has responsibility for con-
sumptive uses of water. A water-oriented agency such as that created un-
der the Model Water Code probably would not be suited to handle air pol-
lution problems. The solution lies in close cooperation between the
respective agencies with, perhaps, overall supervision and coordination
under a state natural resources board.32 This section of the Code is original.
5.03 Additional Powers and Duties of the State Board
In addition to other powers and duties delegated to it under this code,
the state board shall:
(1) Exercise general supervision over the administration and enforce-
ment of this chapter within the state and all regulations and orders
promulgated thereunder, and adopt, modify, repeal, promulgate, and
enforce such regulations implementing or effectuating its powers and
duties under this code as it may deem necessary.
COMMENTARY. A two-tiered administrative system operates under
the Model Water Code. The State Water Resources Board greatly resembles
the state agency found in the Model Water Use Act.83 In addition, under
29 See N.C. STAT. 143-212 (1964).
30 1.03 Definitions
When appearing in this code or in any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto,
the following words shall mean:
(8) Water or waters of the state-Any and all water on or beneath the surface of
the ground or in the atmosphere, including natural or artificial watercourses, lakes, ponds,
or diffused surface water and water percolating, standing, or flowing beneath the surface
of the ground, as well as all coastal waters within the jurisdiction of the state.
31DEL. CODE ANN. Title 7, 6002 (West Supp. 1968); MINN. STAT. ANN. 116.01-
116.09 (West Supp. 1969); ORE. REV. STAT. 449.760-449.990 (1968).
32 See, e.g., proposal of Florida Governor's Natural Resources Committee Jan. 10, 1969.
The Committee's suggestion that the Air and Water Pollution Control Commission be
placed within the Florida Department of Natural Resources, however, has not been followed
by the legislature.
33 MODEL WATER USE ACT 201 (1958).
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
the Model Water Code, the state is divided into a number of water manage-
ment districts. Each water management district will consist of a hydrologic
unit such as a river basin and will be administered by a governing board.
The state board is concerned with statewide planning and policy making, re-
search, administration of grants, and general supervision and coordination
of the activities of the various governing boards.
The governing boards of the water management districts administer the
various permit systems established by the Code. In addition, the district
may assume responsibility for flood control, recreation, and other water
While actual enforcement of water quality standards normally would
be the function of the governing boards of the water management districts,
the state board still retains substantial supervisory powers. These powers
can be implied from section 1.06 (10) 4 which also gives the state board
the authority to review and rescind any regulation of the governing board
not in accord with the provisions of the Code. The administrative appeal
section of this Code, section 1.20,85 also permits review by the state board
of local action or failure to act. Thus, if the governing board fails to en-
force water quality standards, the state board may act in its stead. Section
1.20 (3) (c) 38 allows the state board to exercise all of the administrative
and enforcement powers delegated to the governing board under this
chapter. Thus, the residual enforcement power of the state board applies
14 1.06 General Powers and Duties of the State Board
In addition to other powers and duties the state board is authorized to:
(10) Exercise general supervisory authority over all water management districts
created under this code. The state board may review and rescind any regulation of a
water management district to insure compliance with the provisions and purposes of this
35 1.20 Administrative Review
(1) Upon petition by any aggrieved person or upon its own motion, the state board
shall at any time review any action or failure to act by a governing board.
(2) The evidence before the state board shall consist of the record before the governing
board and any other relevant evidence which, in the judgment of the state board, should be
considered to effectuate and implement the policies of this code.
(3) The state board may find the governing board's action or inaction to be appropriate
and proper. Upon a finding that the action of the governing board, or the failure of the
governing board to act, was inappropriate or improper, the state board may
(a) direct that the appropriate action be taken by the regional board,
(b) refer the matter to any other state agency having jurisdiction,
(c) take the appropriate action itself, or
(d) any combination of the foregoing.
In taking any such action, the state board is vested with all the powers of the governing
board granted under this code.
(4) In the event of a dispute between two or more water management districts, the state
board shall decide the issue on its own motion or on the motion of one of the parties.
(5) In the case of review by the state board under the provisions of this section, the
state board may stay in whole or in part the effect of a decision or order of a governing
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
to the provisions of this chapter. A similar power appears to be possessed
by the state water quality board in California."7 The California Water
Code 13025 is the source of this subsection.
(2) Administer any program of research in water pollution or water
quality control, accept funds from the United States or any person to
that end and support programs of research by other state agencies,
universities, industries and private persons.
COMMENTARY. One of the primary duties of the state agency should
be the administration of a comprehensive research program and a program
for the collection of basic data." Under this subsection, the state board
is authorized to carry on research in the area of pollution control and
water quality. This power is merely another facet of the state board's
function as a planning and research agency. This material was adopted
from a provision of the California Water Code.3"
(3) Collect and disseminate information relating to water pollution
and the prevention, control and abatement thereof.
This section appears in the Suggested State Act.40 A similar power is
found in the Model Water Use Act.41
(4) Cooperate with other state or interstate water pollution control
agencies in establishing standards, objectives or criteria for quality
of interstate waters originating in or flowing through the state.
COMMENTARY. This power is also included in the Suggested State
(5) Administer any program of financial assistance for water pol-
lution or water quality control and accept funds from the United States
or any person to that end.
The state board is designated as the water pollution control agency of
the State for all purposes stated in the Federal Water Pollution Control
COMMENTARY. No meaningful water quality program can be im-
plemented without a significant increase in funds available to finance con-
struction of treatment and disposal facilities. The New York experience
is illustrative: Up to the present time New York's statutory program ap-
37 See CAL. WATER CODE 13024 (1956) (repealed by CAL. STAT. ch. 482, 17 (1969)).
8 Note, Water Pollution-State Control Commission, 17 VAND. L REv. 1394, 1371
39 CAL. WATER CODE 13024 (1956) (repealed by CAL. STAT. ch. 482, 16 (1969)).
40 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 4 (f).
41 MODEL WATER USE ACT 605 (C) (1958).
42 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 4 (c).
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
parently has been little more effective than the common law approach."
There appears to have been no significant improvement in the quality of
New York streams even after the 1949 Water Pollution Control Act. Al-
though one reason has been the lack of coordination and cooperation
among the various state agencies, the major factor has been the resistance
of affected municipalities. Treatment of pollution can place a substantial
financial burden on cities, which would in many instances cause a tax
increase of well over one hundred percent. On numerous occasions New
York voters have defeated local bond issues earmarked for sewage treat-
ment facilities in that state. It was hoped at first that enforcement could
be achieved through voluntary compliance, but no such cooperation has
been forthcoming from municipalities and industrial polluters have likewise
shown little tendency to cooperate voluntarily. Thus, enforcement could
only be had through long and costly court proceedings on a case-by-case
Financial inability has rendered enforcement difficult against municipali-
ties in Oregon as well.4" The same or similar problems exist with enforce-
ment of water pollution control statutes against industries, the principal
impediment to compliance usually being financial. This situation is, no
doubt, the same in most other jurisdictions. Some relief is now available
from the federal government in the form of construction grants for
municipalities under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.46
Under the Model Code the state board would administer financial
assistance through a water resources development account pursuant to
this subsection. The state board is officially designated as the water pol-
lution control agency of the state in order to qualify for funds under the
Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1965.
Under the Clean Water Restoration Act of 1966,47 Congress authorized
grants of up to fifty percent to the states to meet the administrative ex-
penses for a planning agency in formulating a comprehensive water quality
control and abatement plan for a river basin. These funds are available
upon request of the governor of a single state or a majority of the governors
when more than one state is involved. The plan must comply with the
applicable water quality standards within the basin and must recommend
treatment works and sewer systems that will provide the most effective
and economical means of collection, storage, treatment, and purification
of wastes for both municipal and industrial systems. The plan must also
call for the maintenance and improvement of the water quality standards
43 Note, Water Pollution Control in New York, 31 ALBANY L. REV. 50, 60 (1967).
45 Quesseth, Water Pollution Control Laws of Oregon, 3 WILLAMETTE L. J., 284, 291-92,
46 33 U.S.C. 466 (1956), as amended, (Supp. II, 1967).
4 CLEAN WATER RESTORATION ACT OF 1966 101, 33 U.S.C. 466 (1956), as amended,
(Supp. II, 1967).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
within the basin and adequate facilities to finance the plan.48 It is sug-
gested that each of the water management districts could qualify for
assistance under this federal legislation.
This section is modeled after the Suggested State Act.'4 Similar pro-
visions, however, are found in virtually every state pollution control statute.
5.04 Water Quality Plan
(1) The state water quality plan shall consist of the following:
(a) Water quality standards for all waters of the state. Such
standards will consist of receiving water standards and where ap-
plicable, effluent standards.
(b) Water quality objectives for planning and operation of water
resource development projects for water quality control activities,
and for the improvement of existing water quality.
(c) Other principles and guidelines deemed essential by the state
board for water quality control.
(d) A program of implementation for those waters which do not
presently meet established water quality standards.
COMMENTARY. The state board will develop the state water quality
plan. While the governing boards of the various water management dis-
tricts will work closely with the state board on this project, the ultimate
responsibility will rest with the state board. It is essential that some agency
exercise responsibility for planning and coordination of a statewide pol-
lution control program. In the past many regulatory agencies failed to
recognize the necessity of long-range planning. Nearly all of the statutes
empower and encourage the control agencies to engage in planning, but
too often the agency has concentrated on day-to-day administration and
planning has been neglected.50
The main feature of the state water quality plan is the establishment of
water quality standards. This aspect of the plan is hardly new. Under
the Suggested State Act, the state pollution control agency may establish
such standards but is not required to.5 No mandatory guidelines are set
out in the Suggested State Act for the board to follow in formulating such
standards other than a requirement that they "protect the public health and
welfare and the present and prospective future use of such waters." The
Federal Pollution Control Act of 1965 requires the various states to classify
streams and adopt standards for interstate waters sufficient to meet the
approval of the Department of the Interior.52
48Edwards, The Legislative Approach to Air and Water Quality, 1 NAT. RESOURCES
LAWYER 58, 64 (1968).
49 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 3 (e).
60 Hines, supra note 4, at 233.
51 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 6.
52 For a complete discussion of water quality standards see COMMENTARY 5.05 infra.
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
Another element of the plan is the establishment of water quality ob-
jectives. This concept appears in the California Water Code 51 as part of
the state policy for water quality control. As such, it basically represents
a planning objective. The drafters of the Model Water Code have added
the phrase "and for the improvement of existing water quality." This
addition somewhat changes the import of the original; coupled with the
fact that it appears in a plan rather than a policy, the provision has be-
come a mandatory directive for water quality improvement rather than a
mere planning objective.
Subpart (c) confers authority upon the state board to insert whatever
additional regulations, information, and directions it feels necessary.54
One of the primary benefits of establishing a water quality plan is that
it forces the regulatory agency to formulate concrete proposals for ad-
ministrative action immediately, rather than waiting until a water pollution
situation becomes intolerable. Subsection (d) is intended to encourage
the state board to set realistic standards since it will have to state in detail
how it will achieve the desired water quality at the same time it establishes
the particular standards. This program of implementation provides notice
to water users and the general public of what measures the board has
promised to take, and should include financial planning as well as enforce-
A prominent objective in such an enforcement scheme should be the
consolidation of small and inefficient treatment plants. The principal
weakness of the California program has been its failure to encourage groups
of communities to consolidate their waste treatment facilities into one
efficient operation. The San Francisco area regional board has a long
record of encouraging local governmental agencies to undertake integrated
planning for sewerage systems and waste disposal facilities, yet no master
plan has been devised to replace small overladen facilities with large
efficient plants to serve wide areas.55
Subpart (a) of this section is original; subpart (b) was taken in modi-
fied form from the California Water Code.56 Subpart (c) is also derived
from California,57 while subpart (d) is original.
(2) The state water quality plan shall be periodically reviewed and
may be revised.
COMMENTARY. The state water quality plan may, and should, be
periodically reviewed in light of changing conditions. In particular, the
plan should provide for changing water use patterns as reflected in the state
5a CAL. WATER CODE 13142 (b) (1956).
*5See, e.g., CAL. WATER CODE 13142 (d) (1956).
55 Note, Regional Control of Air and Water Pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area, 55
CALIF. L. REV. 702, 718 (1967).
5" CAL. WATER CODE 13142 (b) (1956).
57 Id. 13142 (d).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
water use plan and the operation of the permit system since the quantity of
water available and its time pattern of distribution affect the quantity,
quality and time pattern of wastes which can be discharged into the re-
ceiving waters."s This subsection is original.
(3) During the process of formulating or revising the state water
quality plan the state board shall consult with and carefully evaluate
the recommendations of concerned federal, state, and local agencies,
particularly the governing boards of the various water management
COMMENTARY. The state water quality plan was inspired by a
similar approach in the California Water Code. One significant difference,
however, is that under the Model Water Code the water quality plan is
formulated at the state level rather than by the governing boards of the
various water management districts. On the other hand, in California, the
regional water quality boards develop local water quality plans and submit
them to the state board for approval. It can be argued that the local
board is more responsive and better informed about local problems. Under
the procedure outlined above, however, the state board can utilize local
knowledge and expertise, while retaining the ability to make independent
inquiries and judgments. It is hoped that this approach will enable the
standards to reflect local conditions and needs, while avoiding undue in-
fluence by dominant economic interests and pressure groups, although all
affected parties should be consulted at this stage whenever possible.
While the state board has ultimate responsibility for drafting the water
quality plan, it is expressly directed to seek the advice and expertise of
other federal, state, and local agencies, particularly the governing boards
of various water management districts. One important aspect of sound
planning is affirmative action to coordinate the pollution control efforts of
agencies with common interests. State acts usually authorize participation
in cooperative programs, but local agencies have seldom taken the initiative
to seek out areas of mutual interest with other groups.59 This subsection
requires such action. Portions of this subsection were taken from the Cali-
fornia Water Code.60
(4) The state board shall not adopt or modify the state water quality
plan or any portion thereof until a public hearing is held. At least
90 days in advance of such hearing the state board shall notify any
affected governing boards, and shall give notice of such hearing by
publication within the affected region pursuant to section 1.09 of this
8 Bower, Some Physical, Technological and Economic Characteristics of Water and
Water Resources Systems: Implications for Administration, 3 NAT. RES. J. 215, 219 (1963).
59 Hines, supra note 4, at 233-34.
60 CAL. WATER CODE 13144 (1956).
61 1.09 Adoption of Regulations by the State Board
(1) The state board shall adopt, promulgate, and enforce such regulations as may be
necessary or convenient to administer the provisions of this code.
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
COMMENTARY. Generally, where decision is required concerning
water quality standards in a particular area, hearings are necessary to ob-
tain some sense of the public feeling about the matter and to afford affected
parties an opportunity to present their cases.62 Therefore, in the Model
Water Code, a public hearing is provided before adoption of the water
quality plan or any portion thereof.
Normally, the state board would adopt portions of the state plan on a
regional basis to insure that all affected persons may conveniently attend
the hearings. The final decision of the state board, however, would not be
subject to challenge unless it was clearly unreasonable in light of the evi-
dence presented at such hearings or obtained independently by the board.
While each governing board participates in the formulation of portions of
the water quality plan pertaining to its water management district, as an
affected party, it may nevertheless record its opposition to the plan or some
provision of it at the public hearings. This subsection is modeled after a
provision of the California Water Code."6
5.05 Water Quality Standards
(1) It is recognized that due to variable factors no single standard
of quality and purity of the waters is applicable to all waters of the
state or to different segments of the same waters.
(2) The state board shall group all waters of the state into classes
and adopt water quality standards for each class. Such classification
shall be made in accordance with considerations of best usage in the
interests of the public.
(2) Regulations affecting the public interest other than regulations relating to the
internal organization and operation of the state board shall be adopted as follows:
(a) The proposed regulations shall be contained in a resolution adopted by the state
board at a regular or called meeting and included in the minutes of its proceedings.
(b) Within ten days of the adoption of such resolution, notice of the regulation in
the form of a summary thereof (or in full, at the discretion of the state board) shall be
published once in four newspapers of general circulation in the state. This notice shall
fix the time and place for a public hearing before the state board to be held not less than
ten nor more than twenty days from the date of publication.
(c) Opportunity shall be afforded interested persons to present their views at such
public hearing either orally or in writing or both, at the discretion of the state board.
Objections may be raised to both the nature and form of such regulation. Following
such hearing the state board may amend, revise or rescind the resolution, which action
shall be set forth in minutes of its proceedings, and by resolution adopt the regulation as
proposed or as amended, or revised, or may determine that no regulation is necessary.
(d) Upon the adoption of any regulation as provided, a copy thereof certified by the
chairman shall, within five days of the adoption thereof, be filed in the office of the
secretary of state and shall become effective fifteen days after such filing except as
(e) Regulations relating to the internal organization or management of the state board
not affecting the public interest, shall be adopted by resolution recorded in the minutes
of its proceedings and shall become effective immediately upon the filing of a copy
thereof, certified by the chairman, in the office of secretary of state.
62 See FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ADMINISTRATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
THE INTERIOR, GUIDELINES FOR ESTABLISHING WATER QUALITY STANDARDS FOR INTERSTATE
WATERS 8, 9 (1966).
as CAL. WATER CODE 13147 (1956).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
(3) In preparing the classification of waters and the standards of
purity and quality above mentioned, the state board shall give con-
(a) The size, depth, surface area covered, volume, direction, and
rate of flow, stream gradient and temperature of the water;
(b) the character of the land bordering, overlying or underlying
the waters of the state and its peculiar suitability for particular
uses, and with a view to conserving the value of said land, en-
couraging the most appropriate use of the same for economic,
residential, agricultural, industrial, or recreational purposes.
(c) The past, present, and potential uses of the waters for trans-
portation, domestic and industrial consumption, bathing, fishing
and fish culture, fire prevention, the disposal of sewage, industrial
and other wastes, and other possible uses, and
(d) the extent of present defilement or fouling of the waters which
has already occurred or resulted from past discharge therein.
(4) The water quality plan adopted by the state board shall contain
standards of quality and purity for each of the various classes in
accordance with the best interests of the public.
(5) In preparing such standards, the state board shall give considera-
(a) The extent, if any, to which floating solids may be permitted
in the waters;
(b) the extent, if any, to which suspended solids, settleable solids,
colloids or a combination of solids with other substances suspended
in water may be permitted;
(c) the extent, if any, to which organisms or virus may be per-
mitted in the waters;
(d) the extent of the oxygen demand which may be permitted in
the receiving water;
(e) the extent, if any, to which the temperature of the waters may
(f) the minimum dissolved oxygen content of the waters that shall
(g) the limits of other physical, chemical, biological, or radiologi-
cal properties that may be necessary for preserving the quality and
purity of the waters of the state;
(h) the extent to which any substance must be excluded from the
the water for the protection and preservation of public health, and
(i) the value of stability and the public's right to rely upon stan-
dards as adopted for a reasonable period of time to permit institu-
tions, municipalities, commerce, industries and others to plan,
schedule, finance, and operate improvements in an orderly and
COMMENTARY. An extended discussion of these various properties
of water may be found in Waters and Water Rights, Volume 3 201,64
64 3 GINDLER, supra note 15, at 201.
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
and a Primer on Water Quality.85 A modern trend in water resources
legislation is the effort to provide for water quality rather than solely to
prevent water pollution,66 and an important aspect of this new approach
is the establishment of water quality standards or guidelines for water-
bodies. The purpose of such standards is to flesh out the legislature's
policies concerning the type of water quality impairment that is deserving
of abatement. Quality standards are a form of pollution gauge; they facili-
tate enforcement and yet are basically preventive in character.
These water quality standards can be divided into two categories. One
type of standard is concerned with the nature of the effluent discharged
into the water. This "effluent standard" is expressed in terms of either
strength or amount of the effluent or the degree of treatment required.6
The second type of standard involves a determination of the quality re-
quired for the waters receiving effluent. Under this "stream" or "receiving
water" approach a minimum level of acceptable quality is established for
each zone of a stream.68 Because the individual characteristics of each
water area must be considered in the formation of receiving water stan-
dards, they are more difficult to establish than effluent standards.
According to one authority, opponents of water quality standards have
argued that once such standards are adopted, they will create vested rights
which cannot later be impaired by alteration of the standards. According
to this view, once the state has formulated a regulatory policy, and persons
have materially changed position in reliance upon it, a later change of
standards might amount to an unconstitutional taking of property unless
just compensation is provided.69 Indeed, the existence of substantial injury
to persons who have reasonably relied on a former regulation would be
significant in determining the reasonableness of the regulation as a means
for accomplishing the desired end.
The argument has a number of weaknesses, however. First, if the pur-
pose of the regulation has sufficient social importance to outweigh the in-
terests of the individuals being injured, the regulation may be upheld as
reasonable.70 Since water pollution is a matter of great public concern,
this fact should be of considerable importance. Also, under most state
pollution statutes including the Model Water Code, it is difficult to see how
65 Swenson and Baldwin, A Primer on Water Quality, 20 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE
INTERIOR (Geological Survey) (1965).
66 See MARTIN, BURKHEAD, BURKHEAD & MUNGER, RIVER BASIN ADMINISTRATION AND
THE DELAWARE 79, 80 (1960); 3 GINDLER, supra note 15, at 7.
67 E.g., MD. ANN. CODE art. 96 A 23 (Supp. 1970); Miss. ANN. CODE 5929-04 (Supp.
1968); OHIO ANN. CODE 6111.03 (Supp. 1970).
68 Hines, supra note 4, at 225-26.
6 See Penn. Coal Co. v. Mohan, 260 U.S. 393, 413-16 (1922); Dunham, Griggs v.
Allegheny County: Thirty Years of Supreme Court Expropriation Law, SUPREME COURT
REVIEW 63, 65-71 (1962).
70 See Williamson v. Lee Optical, Inc., 348 U.S. 483 (1955).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
anyone could successfully claim detrimental reliance on a water quality
standard since changes will seldom be drastic or unexpected. Inherent
in the concept of quality standards is the capacity to adopt to changing
Nevertheless, some states have rejected the establishment of broad stan-
dards in favor of action on a case-by-case basis. Many of those states that
are proceeding with the development of standards are doing so in gradual
stages. Some have formulated broad minimal standards applying to all
waters while others have adopted an area-by-area approach to standard
The establishment of water quality standards involves a number of
difficulties. The state board is directed to consider all relevant physical
characteristics of the water resource in setting standards. Since all stream-
flows vary widely during the seasons of the year, and from year to year,
the state board can only look to averages, or to historic low flows (since
pollution problems are usually greatest in time of low flow). In selecting
a figure, the agency must choose a period of time over which to measure
because the measuring period will have a significant effect on the outcome.
Selection of the historic low-flow as a measure will result in much of the
stream's assimilative capacity being unused. If some common average is
chosen, however, the stream would be polluted frequently.72
It is difficult to determine the precise standards which should be set for
certain pollutants to achieve a desired degree of stream purity. For ex-
ample, there is often no immediate and dramatic cause and effect relation-
ship between the amount of a pollutant present and the death of fish.
Sometimes it is asserted that the state of knowledge concerning factors that
influence water quality is not adequate to allow standards to be set intelli-
gently. Although extensive research is greatly needed, it would appear
that sufficient information is available to permit creation of workable
Another area of uncertainty is the dilutive and assimilative capacity of
the stream itself.74 In many instances the water-quality objectives estab-
lished for state waters leave available in particular waters an assimilative
capacity to dilute and purify waste discharges to some extent. The agency's
water quality and pollution control techniques may result in the division
of this assimilative capacity among the various waste dischargers.75
The state board must set standards for floating solids, suspended solids,
organisms, oxygen demand, temperature, dissolved oxygen and other phys-
71 Hines, supra note 4, at 223.
72 SAX, supra note 11, at 389.
73 Hines, supra note 4, at 225.
74 SAX, supra note 11, at 389.
75 3 GINDLER, supra note 15, 229 at 230.
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
ical, chemical, biological or radiological properties such as taste and odor,
color, pH and turbidity. The state board may also determine the extent
to which any substance should be excluded from receiving waters.
In addition the state board must determine the procedures to be followed
in establishing water quality standards. No doubt the state board would
follow New York's stream classification procedures since much of the text
of section 5.07 was modeled after the New York statute. New York's
water quality control agency follows a four-step procedure in classifying
streams and it is suggested that the state board operating under the pro-
posed model code would classify receiving waters by a similar process.76
SFirst, a survey is made of the basin to obtain the basic data needed to de-
termine the classes which will be assigned to the various waters within the
basin. The second step then involves the preparation and publication of
a report to serve as a basis for a public hearing before the classifications
are adopted. All affected parties are given full opportunity to be heard
at these meetings. The third consists of the public hearing itself. Finally,
the agency, after making any adjustments it deems proper as a result of
the public hearing, adopts the classifications it has made and files them with
the Secretary of State.
Subsections (1) through (5) were taken almost verbatim from the New
(6) The state board may impose such effluent standards as it deems
necessary to maintain or improve water quality.
COMMENTARY. The state board is permitted to establish effluent
standards in addition to receiving water standards, but is not obliged to do
so. Effluent standards are preferred by the interests subject to regulation
because they are well defined and usually promote equality of regulation
among similar types of waste-creating operations. The precision and
simplicity of effluent criteria make establishment and enforcement of state-
wide water quality standards a feasible administrative undertaking. On
the other hand, effluent standards are relatively inflexible and cannot be
adapted easily to varying local conditions.7 Moreover, in setting effluent
standards which, taken together, will produce precisely the desired water
quality, no room may be left for the entry of new industry or expansion by
Existing plants.78 This subsection of the Code is original.
S(7) The state board by regulation may modify classifications and
upgrade the standards of quality.
COMMENTARY. The Model Water Code permits the state board to
76 Note, Particular Problems of Water Pollution under New York and Federal Law, 10
BUFFALO L. REV. 473, 495-96 (1961).
T7 Hines, supra note 4, at 226.
78 SAX, supra note 11, at 400.
1970] WATER QUALITY CONTROL 45
modify water quality standards. Critics of the standards approach to
pollution control have expressed fear that the standards will become per-
manently fixed at too low a quality level.79 Experience has shown, how-
ever, that state water quality standards can be upgraded if the control
agency is committed to such a program.80 This provision is original.
5.06 Additional Powers and Duties of the Governing Board
In addition to other powers and duties delegated to them by this code,
the governing boards of the water management districts shall:
(1) Issue, revoke, modify or deny, in accordance with the require-
ments of the state board, permits for the discharge or removal of any
substance into the waters of the state and for the installation, modifi-
cation or operation of disposal systems or any part thereof.
COMMENTARY. A number of state water quality programs autho-
rize the creation of special agencies to operate on a district or regional
basis. California was among the first states to place planning for water
pollution control on a regional basis.81 In California, these regional dis-
tricts have primary responsibility for pollution control within their terri-
tory,82 while the state agency acts primarily in an overseeing and coordi-
nating capacity. In other states the regional or district organizations serve
a supporting function to the state agency."
Presently, Florida authorizes the state pollution control agency to dele-
gate its authority, thereby allowing counties to create local pollution con-
trol agencies.84 Such counties may enact water quality standards similar
to or more stringent than the state agency's guidelines.85 In addition, the
counties may establish a system for discharge permits.8"
The experience of the Dade County pollution control agency in Florida
has shown that there are significant advantages to enforcement at a local,
rather than a state level. The local unit is closer to the immediate problem
and is frequently more responsive than a state agency. Perhaps the most
distinct advantage of a local agency is that it overcomes the image of the
distant state agency. Permits for construction or operation of businesses
or individual facilities are handled from one easily accessible office. Con-
tractors know that permits can be processed in three days rather than the
ten days which would be required if they had to be forwarded to the state
78 GRAHAM, DISASTER BY DEFAULT 189 (1966).
so Id. at 226, note 196.
81 Note, Regional Control of Air and Water Pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area,
55 CALIF. L. REV. 702, 718 (1967).
82 CAL. WATER CODE 13052 (1956) (repealed by CAL. STAT. ch. 482, 17 (1969)).
s See, e.g., MINN. STAT. ANN. 115.18 (1964); N.J. STAT. ANN. 58.12-9 (1966); VA.
ConD 21-142 (1) (1960).
8 FLA. STAT. 403.182 (1967).
85 FLA. STAT. 403.182 (1) (b) (1967).
88 FLA. STAT. 403.182 (2) (1967).
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
office. Dade's analysis facilities are local and immediate. Water samples
are analyzed locally and each stream and waterbody within the county is
It was felt, however, that enforcement by county agencies would not be
as successful as enforcement by more broadly based regional boards created
along hydrologically sound lines. The drafters of the Code have taken
the position that the multi-county water management districts are better
suited for this responsibility than county boards. The governing board's
control over consumptive uses of water will enable it to coordinate pollu-
tion control with other water problems within its jurisdiction.
In the proposed Model Water Code, therefore, the state board retains
supervisory authority over the operation of the water quality program while
administration and enforcement at the regional level is delegated to the
This subsection is derived from an Arkansas statute; 8s however, a com-
parable provision also appears in the Suggested State Act.89
(2) Require the prior submission of plans, specifications, and other
data relative to the construction of disposal systems or any part thereof
in connection with the issuance of such permits or approvals as are
required by this Act.
COMMENTARY. This subsection authorizes the governing board to
enforce the provisions of 5.07 (2) requiring the prior submission of plans
of disposal systems for approval by the board. This provision is taken
from the Suggested State Act.90
(3) In accordance with the state water quality plan, issue, modify,
or revoke orders: (a) prohibiting or abating discharges or removals
of various substances into the waters of the state; (b) requiring the
construction of new disposal systems or any parts thereof or the
modification, extension, or alteration of existing disposal systems or
any parts thereof or the adoption of other remedial measures to
maintain or upgrade water quality.
COMMENTARY. The subsection concerns the governing board's re-
sponsibility to control water quality through the issuance of discharge
permits. Subsection (b) permits the governing board to impose certain
duties, such as construction of a treatment facility, as a condition to grant-
ing a discharge permit.
This provision was adopted with some modification from an Arkansas
statute.91 A comparable section is found in the Suggested State Act.92
8T CODE OF METROPOLITAN DADE COUNTY, Ordinance 67-95 1 (1967).
88 ARK. STAT. ANN. 47-804 (8) (1964).
89 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 4 (i).
90 Id. 4 (1).
9x ARK. STAT. ANN. 47-804 (6) (1964).
92 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 4 (n).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
(4) Require proper maintenance and operation of disposal systems.
COMMENTARY. This subsection was taken from section 4 (n) of
the Suggested State Act.
(5) Exercise all incidental powers necessary to carry out the ob-
jectives of this code.
COMMENTARY. One such function of the governing board might
be to assist individual polluters in planning and constructing treatment
facilities. This scientific and engineering advice is especially needed by
the small businesses and municipal corporations which are serious polluters
but lack the capital and technical knowledge necessary to abate the pollu-
tion caused by their activities.93 This provision is found in the Suggested
5.07 Permits for New Outlets, Disposal Systems, and Treatment Works
(1) No person shall without having obtained a written permit from
the governing board:
(a) Begin construction of any new outlet for the discharge of
sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes, or the effluent therefrom
into the waters of the state, including coastal waters.
(b) Begin construction of any new disposal system for the dis-
charge of sewage, industrial wastes, or other wastes or the effluent
therefrom, into the waters of the state including coastal waters,
or make any change in, addition to or an extension of any existing
disposal system or part thereof which would materially alter the
method, the volume, or the effect of treating or disposing of the
sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes.
(c) Begin construction of any new treatment work for the treat-
ment of sewage, industrial waste or other wastes or the effluent
therefrom, into the waters of the state including coastal waters, or
make any change in, addition to or extension of any existing
treatment plant or part thereof which would materially alter the
method, volume, or the effect of treating said wastes.
(2) No permit for any new outlet or the construction of a new dis-
posal system or the modification or the extension of an existing dis-
posal system shall be issued by the governing board until the plans
have first been submitted to and approved by it.
COMMENTARY. An earlier section of the Model Water Code de-
fines outlet,9" disposal system,96 and treatment works.97 In order that large
discharge facilities will operate in such a manner as to reduce impairment
a9 MURPHY, WATER PURITY 97, 98 (1961).
94 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 4 (o).
95 MODEL WATER CODE 5.01 (111.
96 Id. at 5.01 (10).
97 Id. at 5.01 (9).
48 ALBANY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 35
of water quality to a minimum, it is necessary to insure that they are con-
structed properly. Therefore, the governing board must issue a construc-
tion permit before work may commence on such facilities. It is intended
that the governing board shall not only act as supervisor in this respect,
but also cooperate in every way with any party seeking to construct such
facilities and make available to such party any information that will assist
him in planning and constructing the most efficient facilities possible. Sub-
section (1) was modeled after a Florida statute."8 Subsection (2) is
5.08 Discharge permits
(1) (a) No person shall discharge any substance into the waters of
the state which may affect the quality of waters of the state without
first obtaining a permit from the governing board of the area affected
by such discharge.
(b) No person who is a citizen, domiciliary, or political agency or
entity of this state shall discharge any substance into waters outside
of the boundaries of the state which could affect the quality of waters
of the state without first obtaining a permit from the governing board
of the area affected by such discharge.
(c) The state board may authorize the governing boards to exempt
certain types of discharges from the requirements of this subsection
if it is clearly established that there will be no significant impairment
of water quality from such discharges.
COMMENTARY. This provision requires a discharge permit for vir-
tually any activity that might impair water quality. The term "substance"
has been used instead of "waste," to avoid creating an exception regarding
discharges of pesticides and herbicides, particularly those intentionally
discharged into a stream for a specific purpose.99 Not only discharges into
waters of the state including coastal waters are covered by this section, but
also discharges outside the boundaries of the state in cases where the state
retains some jurisdiction over the discharger.
Subpart (c) allows the state board to authorize (but not require) the
governing boards to exempt certain discharges which are so minimal that
no impairment of water quality is likely to result.
Subpart (a) is modeled after a provision in the Model Water Use Act.100
Subpart (b) is a modification of a section of the California Water Code.1o0
Subpart (c) is original.
(2) The permit may be granted only if the governing board deter-
mines that such discharge will not lower water quality in the affected
water below the standards set for that class of water pursuant to the
98FLA. STAT. 403.061 (18) (1967).
9 See 3 GINDLER, supra note 15, 228.2 at 228.
100 MODEL WATER USE ACT 602 (a) (1958).
lo0 CAL. WATER CODE 13260 (West Supp. 1970).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
state water quality plan. Permits may also be denied if the governing
board determines that such discharge would not be consistent with
water quality improvement objectives established for the affected
water pursuant to the state water quality plan.
COMMENTARY. This subsection subjects the granting of permits to
the maintenance of water quality standards and other provisions of the state
water quality plan. Since compliance with the water quality standards is
capable of relatively accurate determination, any questionable action of
the governing board can be easily reviewed by the state board or the courts
in light of such standards. The governing board may also deny permits for
discharges that would not be comparable to water quality improvement
objectives set out in the state plan. This subsection is original.
(3) The procedure for permit applications shall be governed by the
provisions of section 1.18 of this code. All information required by
such form must be furnished and when information filed by any per-
son pursuant to this section is not adequate in the judgment of the
governing board, the board may require such person to supply such
additional information as it deems necessary.102
COMMENTARY. This subsection provides for permit application
forms and states that the requisite information must be furnished thereon
before the governing board takes action on the application. Much of the
language in the last sentence is taken from the California Water Code; lo
the rest is original.
(4) No discharge into the waters of the state pursuant to the terms of
a permit issued under this section shall create a vested right to con-
tinue such discharge. All discharges into waters of the state are
privileges, not rights.
COMMENTARY. While every effort should be made to protect the
economic security of permit users, permission to discharge under a permit
cannot be considered a vested right. There is no such right at common
law, and any tendency in that direction would be inimical to the concept
102 1.18 Application and Notice
(1) Applications for a permit required under the provisions of this code shall be filed
with the water management district on an appropriate form provided by the governing
(2) Upon receipt of the application the governing board shall cause a notice thereof to
be published in a newspaper having general circulation within the affected area. The
notice shall be published at least once a week for two consecutive weeks. In addition,
the governing board shall send a copy of such notice to any person who has filed a written
request for notification of any pending applications affecting this particular designated
area. This notification shall be sent by regular mail prior to the date of last publication.
(3) This section shall not be applicable to permits or licenses issued under the provisions
of chapters three and six of this code.
03s CAL. WATER CODE 13260 (e) (West Supp. 1970).
50 ALBANY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 35
of comprehensive planning and development of water resources. This po-
sition is expressly stated in this subsection. It also appears in the California
Water Quality Control Act.04 This provision is particularly significant in
connection with subsection (5) below.
(5) Permits may be modified, suspended or revoked by the govern-
ing board after a hearing pursuant to section 5.12 of this code:
(a) For any material false statement in the permit application.
(b) For wilful or negligent violation of the conditions of the per-
(c) For refusal to allow inspection of facilities as provided under
section 5.10 of this code.
(d) After a determination by the governing board that the water
quality of the affected water has fallen below the water quality
standards established by the state board pursuant to the water qual-
ity plan or any subsequent modification thereof.
(e) In order to protect the public health, safety, or welfare.
(f) To protect any domestic consumptive uses or water uses ex-
ercised pursuant to the provisions of chapter two of this code.
(6) Discharge permits shall be issued for a term of ten years. Re-
newals shall be treated in the same manner as initial applications.
COMMENTARY. Permits may be modified, suspended or revoked as
a punitive measure for violations of the code. However, permits may also
be affected by a change in the condition of the water source, the existence
of new users, or new provisions in the state water quality plan. This does
not mean that permittees are subject to loss of the right to discharge at the
whim of the state or governing board, but it does indicate that the nature
of water resources requires that a continual adjustment of various dis-
charges be made. In particular, this subsection should not be interpreted
to give present users an absolute preference over future users on the basis
of priority alone. Modification of the discharge permit, particularly when
receiving water quality standards are upgraded or new users must be pro-
vided for, does not mean that the discharger's operation will be terminated.
Rather, modification means that the discharger must take some measures
to adjust the volume or strength of his effluent. This may indicate that
additional treatment will be required. However, the same condition would
theoretically obtain under the common law in a reasonable-use jurisdiction
when a riparian initiated a new use. These subsections are original.
5.09 Pollution of Underground Waters; Permits
(1) No person shall use any cavity, sink, driven or drilled well for
the purpose of draining any surface water or discharging any sewage,
industrial or other wastes into the underground waters of the state
04d Id. at 13263 (g).
1970] WATER QUALITY CONTROL 51
without first obtaining a discharge permit from the governing board
under the provisions of section 5.08 of this code.
(2) This section shall not limit the exercise by the state board of
health of any powers delegated to it by statute over the underground
waters of the state.
COMMENTARY. Water demands are satisfied from both surface and
ground water sources. These sources are both subject to pollution, but
of the two ground water pollution is much more difficult to correct.1 0
Once a ground water source becomes contaminated, it may remain in that
condition for years, whereas surface water sources flush themselves regu-
larly.'06 Since the definition of waters of the state covers ground water, all
provisions of chapter five are applicable to it. However, since many pol-
lution control statutes exclude or ignore ground water, it was felt that it
should be expressly included.
It should be emphasized that salt-water intrusion is distinguished from
water quality insofar as chapter five is concerned. The governing board's
powers over salt-water intrusion are exercised through section 1.21 which
establishes a salt-water barrier line and through the various provisions of
chapter two and chapter three. This section is taken, with minor changes,
from the Florida statutes.107
(1) The governing board shall have the power to enter at reasonable
times upon any private or public property other than dwelling places
for the purpose of inspecting and investigating conditions relating to
COMMENTARY. This power has already been delegated to the gov-
erning board in 1.16(2).108 However, subsections (2) and (3) provide
some elaboration. This subsection is a somewhat modified form of the in-
spection provision in the Suggested State Act.109
(2) Such investigation shall include such engineering studies, bac-
teriological, biological, and chemical analyses of the water and loca-
tion and character of the source or sources of contamination as may
105 MURPHY, supra note 93, at 14-15 (1961).
106 WRIGHT, THE COMING WATER FAMINE 114-55 (1966).
x07 FLA. STAT. 387.02, 387.03, 387.09 (1967).
10s 1.16 General Powers and Duties of the Governing Board
In addition to the other powers and duties allowed it by this code, the governing board
is authorized to: (2) enter at all reasonable times upon any property other than dwelling
places for the purpose of conducting investigations and studies or enforcing any of the
provisions of this code, being liable, however, for actual damage done.
109 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 9 (a).
52 ALBANY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 35
COMMENTARY. This subsection was taken from the Iowa statutes.11
It indicates the extent to which studies and investigations may be made.
(3) The governing board may require the maintenance of records
relating to the operation of disposal systems, and any authorized
representative of the governing board may examine and copy any
such records or memoranda pertaining to the operation of disposal
systems.. Copies of such records shall be submitted to the state board
This subsection is taken from the Suggested State Act."'
The state board may establish fees for the issuance and renewal of
any permits established under this chapter. All funds collected
under this provision shall be credited to the water development ac-
COMMENTARY. Fees for the issuance of discharge permits could be
nominal, or they could be such as to resemble an effluent charge that is
proportioned to the volume and strength of the effluent discharged. In the
latter case, such fees could contribute significantly to the financing of the
water quality program. This section is modeled after a provision of the
Model Water Use Act 112 which deals with consumptive use permits.
5.12 Administrative Enforcement
(1) If the governing board has reason to believe that a violation of
any provision of this chapter has occurred, it shall serve written notice
upon the violator. The notice shall specify the provision of the code,
or regulation alleged to be violated, and the facts alleged to constitute
a violation thereof, and may include an order that corrective action
be taken within a reasonable time.
(2) If, after a hearing under the provisions of section 1.19,113 the gov-
110 IOWA CODE ANN. 455 B. 12 (West Supp. 1969).
111 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 9 (b).
112MoDEL WATER USE ACT 415 (1958).
113 1.19 Proceedings before the Governing Board
(1) All proceedings before the governing board concerning the issuance, modification
and revocation of permits or the enforcement of any provision of this code by the governing
board shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) Parties affected by action of the governing board shall be timely informed by the
governing board of the time, place, and nature of any hearing; the legal authority and
jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held; and the matters of fact and law asserted.
In fixing the time and place for hearings, due regard shall be had for the convenience and
necessity of the parties or their representatives.
(3) The governing board is authorized to administer oaths to witnesses, make findings of
fact and determinations of law, and otherwise regulate the course of the hearing.
(4) (a) The governing board may require the production of books, papers, or other
documents and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses.
(b) If any person shall refuse to obey any subpoena as issued or shall refuse to testify
or produce any books, papers, or other documents required by the subpoena, the governing
1970] WATER QUALITY CONTROL 53
earning board finds that a violation has occurred it shall affirm or
modify its order previously issued, or issue an appropriate order or
orders for the prevention, abatement or control of the condition in-
volved or for the taking of such other corrective action as may be
(3) Any order issued under subsection (1) above shall become ef-
fective after ten days unless a hearing is requested. However, any
order issued after a hearing may prescribe the date by which the
violation shall cease by fixing reasonable timetables for necessary
(4) If after a hearing the governing board finds that no violation is
occurring, it shall rescind the order issued under subsection (1) above.
(5) The governing board may enforce its orders by injunction pur-
suant to the provisions of section 5.14 of this act.
COMMENTARY. Enforcement has consistently been a major weak-
ness of state pollution regulation.114 The non-enforcement problem is
rooted in the essential unwillingness of the control agency to bring the full
weight of the enforcement machinery to bear on the polluter.11" To the
board may petition the circuit court of the county where such person is served with
subpoena or where he resides to issue its rule nisi to such person requiring him to obey
the same unless such person shows sufficient cause for failing to obey said subpoena. The
governing board shall deposit with said court when such subopena is issued in its behalf, the
per diem and mileage allowable to secure the attendance of such witnesses.
(5) The governing board or any party to a proceeding before it may cause the deposition
of witnesses residing within or without the state to be taken in the manner prescribed by
law for deposition in civil actions before the circuit courts of this state.
(6) A full and accurate record of proceedings before the board shall be taken and shall
constitute the sole record for the purposes of judicial review.
(7) Each witness who appears by order of the governing board shall receive for his
attendance the same fees and mileage allowed by law to witnesses in civil cases, which
shall be paid by the parties at whose request the witness is subpoenaed.
(8) The governing board shall not be bound by the technical rules of evidence but may
exclude irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence. Parties to the hearing shall
have the right to present their case or defense by oral or documentary evidence, to cross-
examine, and to submit rebuttal.
(9) The governing board is authorized to hold conferences for the purpose of consoli-
dating applications for a hearing, selecting dates for a hearing satisfactory to the parties,
exploring all feasible methods to eliminate surprise and delay and to shorten the hearing,
including arrangements for the parties in advance of the hearing to exchange written
qualifications of professional expert witnesses, and maps, charts, engineering analyses and
other items contemplated for introduction as evidence and to encourage stipulations among
the parties directed toward the same or similar ends.
(10) When a number of applications are pending on a water source having a common
factual background, the governing board may consolidate such applications for hearing and
report the hearing by a common transcript.
(11) A hearing examiner may preside over any proceeding under this section before
the governing board regarding issuance of a permit and, subject to final approval by the
governing board, exercise in its name any and all of the powers enumerated in this section.
114 Stein, Programs in Water Pollution, 2 NAT. RES. J. 388, 406 (1962).
x11 Hines, supra note 4, at 227.
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
largest group of polluters, private industry, pollution control is not "eco-
nomical" from the standpoint of corporate profit, and industry generally is
not concerned with aesthetic and recreational interests."1 Extreme mea-
sures are seldom required against industrial polluters, however, because
the threat of adverse publicity is often sufficient to insure compliance. In
the recent efforts to abate pollution of the Detroit River in Michigan, which
involved some controversial proposed orders by the state agency, every
polluter ultimately signed a stipulation with the commission, and no cases
went to final adjudication. This appears to be the general pattern through-
out the nation. While there is no single explanation for this pattern, cer-
tainly a major reason is the strong desire by those charged with pollution
to avoid adverse publicity."7
On the other hand, enforcement against municipal pollution is often
more complex. Municipalities have always posed a dilemma in state en-
forcement of pollution control laws. Minnesota has found a rather drastic
solution to the problem. When a municipality fails to comply with pollu-
tion abatement orders, state legislation authorizes the control agency to
assume the powers of administrative officers of the municipality relating
to construction, installation, or operation of treatment facilities."18 The
agency may also compel cooperation between two or more municipalities
if such cooperation is determined to be necessary."9 There is no specific
provision in the Model Water Code regarding enforcement against cities;
since financial problems are usually responsible for noncompliance, it is
hoped that the agency will be in a position to offer financial aid for treat-
ment facilities in order to make compliance possible.
The governing board utilizes the same procedures in determining
whether a violation of this chapter has occurred as it does in administering
other provisions of the Code. It should be emphasized that this procedure
is the normal one used in all but extremely urgent cases of pollution. The
governing board's order must allow a reasonable amount of time for cor-
rective action; however, financial inability is no defense for noncompliance.
The order becomes final in ten days unless the defendant requests a hear-
ing. If the governing board affirms its order after the hearing, the polluter
will still have a reasonable time to comply. Again, however, financial
hardship alone will not normally justify such an extension.
Some of the practical problems of instituting such hearings, and en-
forcing orders will involve the determination of the source and nature of
the particular stream or other pollution problem, securing the necessary
evidence of pollution, such as chemical analysis of water, and other mat-
ters.20 This section is adapted with some modifications from the notice
116 MURPHY, supra note 93, at 136.
117 SAX, supra note 11, at 388.
18 MINN. STAT. ANN. 115.48 (1964).
11 ld. at 115.49.
120 Quesseth, supra note 45, at 291-92.
~------ -e ----------; _=- ----
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
and hearing provisions of the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control
5.13 Summary Abatement
(1) The governing board may order any person to abate, terminate,
modify or decrease pollution which constitutes, or threatens to be-
come, an immediate and serious hazard to public health, safety, and
welfare, or a serious and immediate hazard to fish or wildlife.
COMMENTARY. Summary abatement proceedings may be used to
cope with extremely serious cases of water pollution. The governing board
under the Code, however, is authorized to make use of this remedy in cases
of a serious and immediate hazard to fish and wildlife as well.
The phrase "serious and immediate" constitutes the standard which
must be applied in connection with this section. "Serious" refers to either
irreparable harm or to very extensive harm. A large fish kill, for example,
may be extensive because it causes substantial harm to many species. On
the other hand, the total destruction of a rare species may be irreparable
without being extensive in relation to the total ecology of the area. Sum-
mary abatement would be available in either case.
The term "immediate" means that the damage would occur within the
ten day period before an order issued under section 5.12 becomes effective.
This subsection is original but bears some resemblance to the Model Water
Use Act 603 (a) (1958).
(2) Orders issued under this section shall be final and conclusive
unless the affected person requests a hearing pursuant to section 1.19
of this code within ten days after receipt of a copy of the order.122
COMMENTARY. This subsection was taken from the Model Water
Use Act 603 (b) (1958).
(3) If a hearing is requested, the orders of the governing board shall
not be stayed during pendency of the hearing or any review thereof.
COMMENTARY. This subsection differs somewhat from the Model
Water Use Act from which it is derived. Under the Model Water Use Act,
the orders of the control agency will be stayed unless the agency determines
that a danger to public health or safety exists. This implies that summary
abatement is available under the Model Water Use Act under circum-
stances where this remedy would not lie under the Model Water Code.
Under the Code, orders of the governing board will not be stayed pending
appeal. It is the drafters' belief that summary abatement should only be
available in cases of genuine emergency. The fact that an appeal is made
from the order will have no effect on the emergency condition itself.
121 FLA. STAT. 403.121 (1967).
122 MODEL WATER CODE 1.19.
ALBANY LAW REVIEW
The Model Water Code differs in one material respect from the Model
Water Use Act in that under the latter no provision is made for the pro-
tection of fish and wildlife. Under the Model Water Use Act the agency's
orders will not be stayed if "public health and safety may be adversely
affected." Under the Model Water Code, however, the agency's orders
will not be stayed under any circumstances, including those instances where
only fish and wildlife are adversely affected. This subsection is modeled
after the Model Water Use Act 603 (c) (1958).
(1) Whenever it shall appear that any person, as defined in section
1.03 (5) of the code, is causing or threatens to cause an impairment
of water quality in violation of any order of the governing board, the
governing board may institute proceedings in a court of competent
jurisdiction for injunctive relief from the appropriate circuit court
to prevent the continuance of such action.123
(2) In a petition for injunctive relief, any previous findings of the
governing board after due notice and hearing shall be prima facie
evidence of the fact or facts found therein. The court shall grant
the injunction without the necessity of showing a lack of adequate
remedy at law upon a showing by the governing board that such per-
son is violating or is about to violate the provisions of this code or
is violating or about to violate any order or determination of the
governing board with respect to this code.
(3) In such suit, the governing board may obtain injunctions, pro-
hibitory and mandatory, including temporary restraining orders and
temporary injunctions as the facts may warrant.
(4) No provision of section 1.20 124 shall apply to this section.
COMMENTARY. Injunctive relief is the ordinary method of en-
forcing orders of the governing board if voluntary compliance is not forth-
coming, although criminal penalties are also available. The Suggested
State Act also provides for injunctive relief as a means of enforcing orders
of the regulatory agency,125 but the state attorney general, rather than the
agency itself, must bring the action. The Model Water Use Act has no
specific provision for injunctive relief other than a general authorization
of the agency to seek judicial enforcement of its orders.126
123 1.03 Definitions
When appearing in this code or in any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, the
following words shall mean:
(5) Person-any and all persons, natural or artificial, including any individual, firm,
association, organization, partnership, business trust, corporation, company, the United
States of America, the State and all political subdivisions, districts, municipalities and
public agencies thereof.
124 MODEL WATER CODE 1.20.
125 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 10.
126 MODEL WATER USE ACT 202 (8) alt. 2. (1958).
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
A water user against whom an injunction has been obtained may appeal
only through the courts. No provision for such an appeal is specifically
made in the statute, so the state administrative procedure act would apply.
Normally, a water user could appeal an order of the governing board to
the state board under section 1.20 of the Code.127 Since an injunction
would issue only where the polluter has refused to avail himself of the
hearing provisions of section 5.12 or has refused to comply with a final
order of the governing board, no further administrative appeal would lie.
Subsections (1) and (2) were taken from the Suggested State Act.128
Subsection (3) appears in a section of the Florida statutes concerning the
authority of the State Board of Conservation over oil and gas drilling
operations.129 Subsection (4) is original.
5.15 Civil Penalties
(1) Whoever causes pollution of the waters of the state which results
in harm to the fish or fish food, or which results in other damage is
liable to the state for damages and the reasonable costs and expenses
of the state incurred in tracing the source of the discharge and in re-
storing the waters to their former condition.
(2) Upon the request of the state board or any state agency or the
alleged violator, the governing board may consider and assess these
damages. If the amount so assessed is not paid within ninety days,
the governing board may institute civil action in the appropriate court
for a judicial determination of liability and damages.
(3) All funds received by the state board pursuant to this section
shall be deposited in the water resources development account.
(4) Nothing herein shall give the governing board the right to bring
an action on behalf of a private person. Nothing herein shall prohibit
the governing board from proceeding forthwith to obtain a judicial
determination of the liability and damages.
COMMENTARY. This provision allows the governing board to force
polluters to pay the costs of restoring a watercourse to its former state.
The governing board may assess damages itself or institute a civil suit for
damages. It should be noted that this section does not apply to every im-
pairment of water quality, but only to pollution as defined in section 5.01
(3) of the Code.
Subsections (1), (2) and (4) are taken from a Florida statute.'13 Sub-
section (3) is original.
5.16 Local Jurisdiction: Conflicts
No provision of this chapter or any ruling of the state board or a
governing board is a limitation:
127 MODEL WATER CODE 1.20.
128 SUGGESTED STATE ACT 10 (b).
129 FLA. STAT. 377.34 (1) (1967).
13o d. at 403.141.
58 ALBANY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 35
(1) On the power of any local governmental agency to adopt and en-
force additional regulations, not in conflict therewith, imposing fur-
ther conditions, restrictions, or limitations with respect to the disposal
of waste or any other activity which might impair water quality.
(2) On the power of any state or local governmental agency to de-
clare, prohibit, and abate nuisances.
(3) On the power of any state agency in the enforcement or adminis-
tration of any provision of law which it is specifically permitted or
required to enforce or administer.
(4) On the right of any person to maintain at any time any appro-
priate action for relief against pollution under the common law.
COMMENTARY. Those counties and municipalities which seek to
enforce stricter controls over water quality are free to do so under the
Model Water Code. Several Florida counties presently have pollution
control programs and a number of others are planning to establish their
own programs. State agencies, such as state boards of health or fresh
water fish and game commissions, may also continue to exercise some
powers over water quality.
Subsection (4) guarantees the common law remedies against pollution.
This section is taken from the California Water Code.'13
Do the weaknesses of current state pollution abatement efforts require
abandonment of the area in favor of a federally conceived and directed
program? While local remedies are not appropriate for the control of
large-scale interstate pollution, the drafters of the Model Water Code feel
that they still may be applicable to a broad program of statewide water
Failure of the states to take affirmative enforcement measures may
ultimately lead to further federal intervention. In the final analysis, how-
ever, the nature and extent of federal intervention will probably be de-
termined by the success of the state pollution abatement programs. In
turn, the likelihood of an effective state response to water pollution will
depend on both the authority and financial support the states make avail-
able to their pollution control agencies.
In the past there has been a tendency at both state and federal levels to
provide legal authority but not the financial support necessary for effective
enforcement, then to blame the administrative agency for its failure to
properly utilize the tools it had available, and finally to transfer the en-
forcement responsibility to a new agency. Increased emphasis, therefore,
must be given to adequate financial support for state pollution enforce-
181 CAL. WATER CODE 13002 (West Supp. 1970).
-1 1 nm
WATER QUALITY CONTROL
Furthermore, if the water quality control agency is to function effectively,
it must proceed after careful statewide planning and not on the case-by-
case basis that has characterized past state enforcement action. States
must also recognize that water pollution is a consumptive use of water.
From this viewpoint, it is appropriate to make one state agency responsible
for both types of consumptive uses, since effective pollution control, which
makes water available for use or reuse, is often the most effective way of
conserving a state's water supplies.
The primary purpose of the Model Water Code, including this chapter,
is to provide a model for the development of a comprehensive regulatory
program which would take into account the hydrologic interrelationship
of all types of water resources in the state, provide greater certainty to
water rights than is possible under the common law, and still retain suffi-
cient flexibility through the use of limited permits and the establishment of
an administrative agency to make realistic long-range plans for the con-
servation and wise use of the state's water resources and the elimination of
waste. In the final analysis, however, it must be remembered that the
mere passing of laws and transferring of authority will not solve the tech-
nical and fiscal problems that must be faced if the state is to achieve a
truly successful program of water resources management. State regula-
tion of water quality will be only as effective as the enforcement that the
people of the state are willing to support and pay for. It is the hope of
the authors that the model presented herein may provide a modern and
efficient mechanism for the achievement of that desired goal.