On April 2, 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted the “State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges for Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State.” The rule clarifies what is considered a wetland for the entire state and establishes permitting procedures for discharged materials from or to areas considered a wetland. The rule also provides consistency in the way the State Water Board and nine regional water boards regulate activities to protect wetlands and other waterways, such as rivers and streams, and bays and estuaries. Additionally, the rule is intended to avoid duplicative work and streamline requirements to cover all waters of the state, so both state and federal environmental concerns are addressed at once.
WG staff worked alongside other agricultural stakeholders in an effort to move this rule from horrendous to workable. The ag stakeholder group was successful in getting language that protects growers and ranchers from having to comply with yet another onerous permitting process for what is considered routine agricultural activities or for simply changing from one crop to another. Additionally, the ag stakeholder group obtained mandatory ongoing oversight through an annual report from Board staff on statewide implementation. This report must be developed in consultation with stakeholders which includes agriculture and will include costs of compliance.
Our next order of business will be to continue working with State Water Board staff on developing the guidance document for regional water boards.
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