Legal Alerts Jul 27, 2016

California State Water Board Extends Public Comment Period for Wetlands Policy; New Permits Likely to be Required

California State Water Board Extends Public Comment Period for Wetlands Policy; New Permits Likely to be Required

The State Water Board recently held a public hearing on controversial proposed amendments to the California Ocean Plan and the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California (ISWEBE Plan). The discussion focused on whether to include new permitting procedures for discharges of dredged or fill materials to waters of the State (formerly known as the Wetlands Policy). The proposed procedures provide a definition of “wetland,” wetland delineation procedures, and application procedures for those seeking to impact many types of water around the State.

The procedures are intended to accomplish several objectives:

  1. extend protection to waters of the State that are purportedly no longer protected by the Clean Water Act due to recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions;
  2. address inconsistencies in regional Water Board requirements for discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the State; and
  3. prevent the loss of California wetlands.

Common concerns among stakeholders opposing the procedures are jurisdictional uncertainties created by the wetland definition and potentially duplicative or conflicting application requirements under federal and state dredge and fill permit processes.

Due to numerous requests from a variety of stakeholders, the State Water Board extended the deadline for written comments on the proposed amendments and Draft Staff Report from Aug. 4 to noon on Aug. 18.

For more information on the draft regulations and the comment process, please contact one of the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group, or your BB&K attorney.

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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

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