Rain on the Parade: Drought Endures in Southern California

California’s unexpected winter storms replenished the Sierra snowpack and filled reservoirs, allowing more than 40% of the State to emerge from one of the worst droughts in its recorded history. While this news should be cause for celebration, recent data from the U.S. Drought Monitor rains on the parade. According to federal officials, vast areas of Southern and Central California remain locked in extreme drought conditions. For this reason, things still look rather precarious for Southern California, as the south relies heavily on neighboring resources for its water. So Cal’s neighbors may be hesitant to share their newly replenished resources—and rightfully so—given predictions that California may experience a drought resurgence.


For those of us in the environmental industry, this news also affects National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial General Permit (IGP) holders. Under the IGP, the permit holder is required to collect and analyze stormwater samples from each discharge location for two Qualified Stormwater Events (QSEs) within the first half of each reporting year (July 1 to December 31), and two (2) QSEs within the second half of each reporting year (January 1st to June 30th). Many Dischargers took advantage of January’s massive storm events to fulfill their sampling requirements for the second half of the year. If you did not complete your sampling requirements this month, we encourage you to sample during the next QSE given the uncertainty of future rain events in Southern California.

As a reminder, the IGP has redefined a QSE to mean a precipitation event that produces discharge from any industrial drainage area proceeded by 48 hours with no discharge. In addition, QSE discharges can start the night before (within 12 hours of facility operational start time). The IGP also requires that all samples be collected within the first 4 hours of discharge. All Dischargers are required to submit and certify all reports electronically via the Storm Water Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTS). After receiving data from the lab, the Discharger has 30 days to submit all analytical results to SMARTS. Lastly, it is always a good idea to review your stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPP) to ensure that your organization stays in compliance with your region’s stormwater program.

If you have not completed the testing requirements for the second half of the reporting year, contact your Project Manager to order your stormwater kit and review your specific stormwater testing requirements in preparation for the next QSE. Click here to view information about Babcock Labs’ stormwater testing services, or contact your project manager to schedule sampling/testing services today!