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Secretary's Award for Environmental Achievement - Environmental Health

Management Jeff Nick Brent

March 27, 2023

Cal EPA Secretary Garcia awarded our HazMat Branch the 2023 Secretary’s Award for programmatic excellence.

March 20, 2023

Mr. Jeff Johnson
Riverside County Department of Environmental Health
P.O Box 7909
Riverside, California 92513-7909


Dear Mr. Johnson:

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) is proud to present the 2023 Secretary’s Award for Environmental Achievement to the Riverside County Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA). The dedication, pride and extraordinary effort put forth by the management and staff of the Riverside County CUPA have been essential to protecting the state’s public Health, public safety, and the environment.

The CUPA administers a robust enforcement program that pursues a graduated series of enforcement. Multiple checks and balances exist in within the CUPA’s daily processes and procedures to ensure proper violation classification and enforcement escalation for violations observed during inspections. For violations that require escalation, the internal Administrative Enforcement Order (AEO) process for formal enforcement is streamlined and accessible with 78 Attorney (DA) staff on statewide and local enforcement cases, while also being an active participant in the DA’s Environmental Crimes Task Force.

As demonstrated upon closure of CalEPA’s 2021 triennial CUPA performance evaluation, Riverside County CUPA successfully accomplished the challenge of maintaining inspection frequencies for all program elements with enhanced safety protocols during the impacts of COVID-19. The CUPA continued to implement necessary enforcement actions, maintained an adequate fee accountability program, and submitted mandatory reports and information to CalEPA within required timeframes. During this time the CUPA was also recognized for their comprehensive training program for new inspectors, collaboration with their Participating Agencies (PAs), and exemplary Self-Audit reports. The CUPA remains an active participant in the CUPA Forum Board and the Unified Program Administration and Advisory Group (UPAAG) via a variety of internal committees, Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), and workgroups that function to coordinate, consolidate, and make consistent the implementation of the Unified Program throughout the state.

Looking forward, the CUPA’s Emergency Response Team and Environmental Cleanup Program will be working with the Office of the Secretary’s Enforcement team and other local environmental and law enforcement agencies within the County to address public health and environmental impacts of illegal marijuana cultivation in and around disadvantaged communities.  


 Yana Garcia, Secretary for California Environmental Protection Agency