SWRCB Releases Draft Implementation Guidance Regarding the Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material

Stoel Rives - California Environmental Law

On February 14, 2020, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) published Draft Guidance for the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Draft Guidance). The Draft Guidance pertains to the SWRCB’s adoption of a State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures) that were approved by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on August 29, 2019.

The Procedures, formerly known as the Wetland Riparian Area Protection Policy, apply to all discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state, not just wetlands. The Procedures consist of four major elements: 1) definition of a wetland; 2) a framework for determining if a feature that meets the wetland definition is a water of the state; 3) wetland delineation procedures; and 4) procedures for the submittal, review and approval of applications for Water Quality Certifications and Waste Discharge Requirements for dredge or fill activities. The Procedures will become effective on May 28, 2020.

The goal of the Draft Guidance is to provide applicants with general guidance in preparing application materials for a dredge or fill project. While the Draft Guidance does not address all possible topics related to implementation of the Procedures, the topics covered reflect the most common requests from stakeholders.

The SWRCB will hold public workshops and trainings throughout California to discuss and receive feedback on the Draft Guidance, the first of which is scheduled for February 28, 2020 from 9:00am – 12:00pm at CalEPA Headquarters in Sacramento:

CalEPA Headquarters – Sierra Hearing Room, 2nd Floor
1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Written comments on the Draft Guidance are due by March 13, 2020, as outlined here.

Between April 22, 2020 and May 20, 2020 – after the Draft Guidance is finalized but before the May 28, 2020 effective date of the Procedures – SWRCB and Regional Water Quality Control Board staff will also hold additional public trainings throughout California regarding the Procedures. After each training session, staff will be available to answer questions. A detailed schedule for the public trainings is available at
https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cwa401/docs/dredge_fill/notice_dredgeguidance.pdf

For more information on the Procedures, the Draft Guidance, or public workshops and trainings, please see https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cwa401/wrapp.html.

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Stoel Rives - California Environmental Law
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