Responsibilities and Services
Compliance Enforcement represents a major component of our efforts to protect the waters of Hillsborough County. These activities include the following:
- Responding to citizen complaints related to wastewater and water quality
- Conducting inspections to ensure facilities are in compliance with their wastewater permit
- Review of facility monitoring reports
- Enforcement of rules and permit requirements
- Information management activities
- Offering compliance assistance site visits
Our inspections typically consist of records review, observing wastewater handling, treatment and disposal, and possibly sampling.
Resolving Non-Compliance Issues
When we discover a non-compliance issue we will initially address it via any of the following depending on the severity of the issue, the history of non-compliance and environmental impact:
- Verbal request to resolve a minor issue
- Compliance Assistance Letter
- Warning Notice (which may include notification of Enforcement action)
In all non-compliance cases, the appropriate follow-up in the form of monitoring and/or inspections is conducted to ensure that any required corrective actions are completed in a timely manner. Each non-compliance issue may require one or more of these tools to resolve violations.
Enforcement is a response to non-compliance and involves deterrence through penalties, recovering the economic benefit of non-compliance, and ensuring needed corrective actions are taken in a timely manner.
Enforcement action is taken when any of the following occurs:
- Other tools such as Warning Notices are unsuccessful in achieving compliance within required time frames
- There is a history of non-compliance
- Activities result in environmental harm
- An action or non-action skews the playing field for the regulated community
The Enforcement Process
Notification: The responsible party will be notified EPC is intending to take enforcement action by any of the following methods:
- Issuance of Warning Notice indicating the case is being transferred for Enforcement
- Issuance of a letter, email or phone call from staff
- Issuance of a formal Notice of Intent to Initiate Enforcement Action
In any case, the responsible party will receive either the Notice of Intent to Initiate Enforcement Action or a proposed Consent Order within 60 days of the case being approved for enforcement action.
A Consent Order is offered to the responsible party to avoid legal action. It is a settlement document containing mutually agreeable terms that legally bind the responsible party and EPC, and is enforceable in a court of competent jurisdiction. Consent Orders include a corrective action schedule if necessary, penalties, recovery of economic benefit of noncompliance if any, and reimbursement of our costs and expenses related to investigating the resolving the case.
If the enforcement action is taken under the our wastewater program delegation agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the penalty is calculated per the FDEP Settlement Guidelines and matrix, otherwise the EPC matrix is used.
Notice of Violation
A Notice of Violation or Citation is an administrative finding of violation and may also include orders for corrective action, civil penalties, and cost reimbursement if the action is taken under the FDEP delegation. Notices of Violation or Citations are reserved for serious cases or where resolution is at an impasse.
In cases where terms of a settlement cannot be reached we have the option to pursue legal action. Once authority has been granted by the EPC Commissioners, the agency’s legal staff prepares the necessary documents and files them with the court.