“Waters of the State” Offers New Regulations
By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
California Ag Today spoke with Kari Fisher, counsel with the California Farm Bureau Federation, recently to discuss how the California State’s Water Resources Control Board is aggressively moving to finalize new “waters of the state” procedures and a new wetlands definition by the end of the year. Farmers and industry groups say the action would create new regulatory boundaries.
Farm groups also say the proposal creates mandatory permitting programs for waters of the state, resulting in permit requirements for more proposed projects, operations, and maintenance activities. Legislation is in its final drafting stages.
“This was drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, released in July. They have been working on different versions of it since before 2008,” Fisher said. “This has been a long-term process and they aim to fix some regulatory gaps.”
Some of these gaps were created by U.S. Supreme Court cases. “That is where the original iteration of this wetlands and dredge and fill policy and procedures came from,” Fisher explained.
The draft was released in July of 2016. “This summer, they released a revised draft, and it does change the direction of where the procedures were from last year,” she said.
Many believe that this has a chance to come light, due the federal government’s position on waters of the U.S.
The Water Resources Control Board has received hundreds of letters from agriculture, building industry and other groups voicing concern over wetlands procedure.