The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Boards), collectively known as the California Water Boards (Water Boards) protect water quality and allocate surface water rights in California.
401 Water Quality Certification and Wetlands Program
This Program is responsible for regulating discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state. The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Boards) (collectively Water Boards) have the authority to regulate these discharges under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Porter-Cologne).
CWA section 401 water quality certifications are issued to applicants for a federal license or permit for activities that may result in a discharge into waters of the United States (WOTUS), including but not limited to the discharge or dredged or fill material. Waste discharge requirements under Porter-Cologne are issued for discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state.
On April 2, 2019, the State Water Board adopted the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for the Discharge of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures). The Procedures became effective May 28, 2020. Applicants proposing to discharge dredged or fill material are required to comply with the Procedures unless an exclusion applies, or the discharge qualifies for coverage under a General Order.
402 Construction General Permit
The federal Clean Water Act requires discharges of construction stormwater to waters of the U.S. to be regulated by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. A Construction Storm Water Permit, also called a Construction General Permit (CGP) is required when a project disturbs more than 1 acre of soil. Construction activities subject to this permit include but are not limited to clearing, grading, excavation, stockpiling, and demolition activities that expose or disturb soil.
The 2022 Construction Stormwater General Permit will become effective September 1, 2023. See this web page for more information and to see the General Permit Order documents: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/stormwater/construction/general_permit_reissuance.html
Below are some excerpts from the General Permit that restoration project proponents should be aware of.
II.B Traditional Construction Activities Not Subject to this General Permit
3. This General Permit does not apply to the following construction activity: Discharges of stormwater from areas on tribal lands; construction on tribal lands is regulated by a federal permit.
4. Discharges of stormwater within the Lake Tahoe Hydrologic Unit. The Lahontan Regional Water Board has adopted its own permit to regulate stormwater discharges from construction activity in the Lake Tahoe Hydrologic Unit. Owners of construction sites in this watershed must apply for the Lahontan Regional Water Board permit rather than the statewide Construction Stormwater General Permit. Construction sites within the Lahontan region must also comply with the Lahontan Region Project Guideline for Erosion Control (R6T-2016-0010).
5. Construction activity that disturbs less than one acre of land surface, unless part of a larger common plan of development or the sale of one or more acres of disturbed land surface.
6. Construction activity covered by an individual NPDES Permit for stormwater discharges.
10. Discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state. Those portions of the construction project that are located outside of waters of the state or waters of the United States are subject to this General Permit if the non-water portions disturb one or more acres of land.
Source: State Water Board Construction Stormwater Program page and NPDES Construction Stormwater General Permit Reissuance page
Additional helpful information about the CGP for restoration projects can be found on page 20 of Permitting and Compliance for Meadow Restoration Practitioners V.1. Sierra Meadows Partnership Working Paper 3: PP 1- 42. Keszey, Levi. 2018. Contact contributing author, Julie Fair from American Rivers at JFair@AmericanRivers.org for information regarding this document.
Accelerated Permitting Pathways
- Water Board General Order for Small Habitat Restoration Projects
- Water Board Statewide Restoration General Order (SRGO)
- CDFW Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP)
- Alameda County Conservation Partnership Permit Coordination Program
- Santa Cruz County Partners in Restoration Permit Coordination Program (PIR)