California State Water Resource Control Board Publishes Draft Guidance for the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State

February 2020

On April 2, 2019, State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) adopted a rule that defined a “wetland” and provided procedures for wetland delineation, wetland determinations, and for obtaining Water Quality Certifications and Waste Discharge Requirements for dredge and fill activities (the “Procedures”). On February 14, 2020, the Water Board released Draft Guidance for the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (“Guidance”).

The Water Board developed the Guidance to help potential applicants understand the requirements of the Procedures.

The Guidance clarifies many aspects of the Procedures including:

  • The three-prong definition of a “wetland”;
  • Procedural aspects of applications under the Procedures such as application completeness determinations;
  • Processes related to alternatives analysis; and
  • Compensatory mitigation requirements.

One of the largest sections of the Guidance is devoted to climate change assessments. As part of the Procedures, where permittee-responsible compensatory mitigation is proposed, the permitting authority (i.e. the Regional or State Water Board) may require a climate change assessment as part of the draft compensatory mitigation plan. To inform potential applicants of the process involved with a climate change assessment, the Guidance includes an attachment titled “Climate Change Assessment Framework for Aquatic Resource Compensatory Mitigation Plans” (“Framework”). The Framework details factors and risk levels associated with climate change impacts and regional-based climate factors. The Framework also includes a climate change assessment worksheet to calculate climate change risk levels.

The Water Board will hold a public workshop to discuss and receive feedback on the Guidance on February 28, 2020, from 9:00-12:00 PM at the CalEPA Headquarters Building in Sacramento. The Water Board staff will also accept written feedback on the Guidance submitted by March 13, 2020.

Follow this link for access to the Guidance, and follow this link for information relating to the Procedures.

James Anderson is an Associate at

Harrison, Temblador, Hungerford & Guernsey LLP in Sacramento, California

© 2020 – Harrison, Temblador, Hungerford & Guernsey LLP. All rights reserved. The information in this article has been prepared by Harrison, Temblador, Hungerford & Guernsey LLP for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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