Regional Water Quality Control Board and City of Brawley Reach $1M Settlement of Administrative Civil Liability Complaint



Brawley Mayor Sam Couchman
Brawley Mayor Sam Couchman


BRAWLEY, CA – In February of 2013, the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board Prosecutorial Staff issued Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) Complaint R7-2013-0068 to the City of Brawley as the Owner/Operator of the Brawley Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Regional Board alleged that the City violated Waste Discharge Requirements Order R7-2010-0022 and proposed a civil liability assessment of $1,734,778.


The violations of concern are historic in nature, dating back more than 10 years. The City has since updated its Pretreatment Program and enacted changes to the City of Brawley Sewer Ordinance that fully regulate any and all industrial users within city limits.


“At this point, it is critical that the City close this chapter in its history and move forward on a path of compliance,” commented Mayor Sam Couchman.


Since the Regional Board’s issuance of the ACL Complaint, the City and Prosecutorial Staff have worked diligently to reach a settlement. With the shared interest of avoiding the cost and burden of litigation, Regional Board staff and the City have agreed to the terms defined within the proposed Stipulated Settlement Agreement and Order, Board Order R7-2013-0068, which can be accessed at:


 The involved parties have arrived at a cash settlement figure of $1,000,000 payable over a three year period. The Regional Board maintains that the ACL Complaint allegations are valid. The City of Brawley denies those allegations and reserves the right to contest those allegations in the future.


The Stipulated Agreement and cash settlement will be considered for approval by the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board at a public hearing on September 19, 2013 at 9AM at 73-720 Fred Waring Drive, Suite 100, Palm Desert, CA 92260.


“We are pleased with the City of Brawley’s decisive actions to comply with Regional Board requirements and that they are placing this matter behind them. The City’s recent institutional and wastewater treatment plant changes were essential to ensure the City achieves full and consistent compliance with the Regional Board requirements,” stated Jose Angel, Assistant Executive Officer of the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board.


  1. I love it when one government agency fines another government agency. Where do they think the money is coming from? Instead of having 1 million dollars to improve our waste water system, the city is being forced to pay a ridiculous fine that will not improve anyone’s water quality. Will Rogers said, “I don’t make jokes, I just watch the government and report the facts.” Our government is becoming more of a joke all the time.

  2. Hello, I have had the need to travel to Brawley, Ca. and it is the most foul odor city I have ever visited. Unbearable, and i have visited third world countries but this city takes the trophy hands down. The smell in the air is so unbearable that it makes you want to puke. In the past 10 years i have visited Brawley approximately 5 times. Not because i long to visit but because i had to. I asked quite a few residents about the foul odor and no one seems to know what and or where the disgusting smell is coming from. Everyone has a different opinion. The smell seems toxic to me. I would hate to read about this town in years to come that no one did anything about this issue and that it was something harming those that reside there.

    Just a thought.

    Thank You,

    Laura Gomez Pinto

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