On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board had its first chance to hear public testimony on the newly amended version of what stakeholders are calling the “Waters of the State” rule, an amended version of a policy to set what is and is not considered a wetland under the jurisdiction of the state. The rule, formally titled “State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Materials to Waters of the State,” is part of an ongoing process to develop a formal wetland protection policy, which began in 2008.
The most recent draft of the rule includes a change in the definition of “wetland” which greatly expands the universe of activities that would be subject to State jurisdiction under the policy.
The Wednesday hearing brought testimony from several representatives from the regulated community, including RCRC, disputing the notion that the new wetland definition was simply consistent with the current federal Clean Water Act definition as stated by staff. By the end of the hearing, Board members expressed sympathy with potential permittees, and implied that there would be further changes to the rule to address stakeholder concerns.
Written comments on the rule are due by September 18, 2017. The draft rule and all related materials can be accessed here.