Sept. 12, 2017 – -As the result of federal efforts to revisit the “waters of the United States” rule, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) released its final draft on “State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State” (Procedures).
These new state Procedures consist of four major elements which include the following substantial changes that will impact agriculture and farming and ranching activities:
- Wetland Definition: For the first time, the new Procedures includes a statewide wetland definition that would consider an area without any vegetation as a “wetland.” In addition, the definition varies from the federal definition causing application problems.
- Waters of the State: California’s definition of “Waters of the State” regulated by the State Water Board, is far broader than “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
- Wetland Delineation: The Procedures are a mandatory permitting program that applies to ALL waters of the state and imposes additional regulatory hurdles and permit requirements on a wide range of industries and activities that includes private development; agricultural operations; infrastructure development, and operations and maintenance (including transportation and water conveyance infrastructure); and conservation/mitigation banking.
- Dredge or Fill Activities: The Procedures also apply to ALL discharges of dredge and fill activities, including those that have already received authorization under Clean Water Act (CWA). The Procedures unnecessarily duplicate the federal CWA program, adding little value, while raising the risk that the State Water Board findings and determinations will vary from, or even conflict with findings and determinations made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and/or CA Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Almond Alliance will be putting in comments on the rule and we encourage you to also consider joining the opposition.