Dawn Koepke

SWRCB releases dredge & fill procedures

By Dawn Koepke

Capitol Update, Jan. 7, 2019 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has released its final proposed Dredge & Fill Procedures for public review and Board adoption at its February 5 Board meeting. 

The Procedures would incorporate amendments to both the Water Quality Control Plan for Ocean Waters of California (Ocean Plan), and the forthcoming Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California (ISWEBE Plan) to include the SWRCB’s proposed “wetland” definition and procedures for discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state. Additionally, the proposed amendments include a framework for determining if a feature that meets the wetland definition is a water of the state; wetland delineation procedures; and procedures for application submittal, and the review and approval of Water Quality Certifications, Waste Discharge Requirements, and waivers of Waste Discharge Requirements for the discharge of dredge or fill material.  Notably, the Amendments would not apply to suction dredge mining activities for mineral recovery.

As you may know, the Procedures have been in the works and fairly controversial for many years as a result of business community, Army Corps and other agency concerns over impacts to planned projects that could result in the disturbance of waters deemed “waters of the state,” proposed to be defined by the state far more broadly than what is considered a Water of the United States. The SWRCB nevertheless has opted to push forward to address a few perceived issues including:

  • Strengthening protections for waters of the state that are no longer protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA) due to past U.S. Supreme Court decisions;
  • Inconsistency across the Water Boards in regulating discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the state, including wetlands; and
  • Inadequacies in current regulations that have failed to prevent losses in the quality and quantity of wetlands in California.

Prior to the Board adoption hearing in early February, the SWRCB will hold two workshops:

January 9th - Staff Workshop
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (San Diego) 

January 22nd - State Water Board Workshop
9:30 a.m. (Sacramento)

For more information, please see http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cwa401/wrapp.shtml

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