Streamlining Waters of the State Regulations for the Water Sector

In 2019, our Environment & Land Use attorneys worked with four leading California water associations to negotiate amendments to the recently adopted Waters of the State regulations.

We worked with the Association of California Water Agencies, California Municipal Utilities Association, California Water Association, and the California State Association of Counties to provide an exclusion from new regulatory requirements for ongoing water supply and flood control related activities that would otherwise fall within the jurisdiction of the new regulations.

The exclusion is found in Section IV.D of the Waters of the State regulatory provisions added to the Statewide Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Bays and Estuaries.  It covers ongoing operation, maintenance and other health and safety activities conducted by water supply, water conservation, water recharge and flood control organizations.  Specifically, the amended regulation covers situations such as operations and maintenance, including removal of vegetation, sediment and debris, from flood control channels, debris basins, groundwater recharge percolation facilities, and natural treatment wetlands.  This pragmatic exception will greatly streamline permitting of these O&M activities by water supply and flood control agencies in California.  It also will save significant permitting and consulting fees for these agencies.
 
State Water Resources Control Board staff were originally not inclined to allow for Board members to consider the proposed exclusion.  We worked on behalf of our individual water agency clients, and the industry organizations mentioned above, to negotiate the exclusion with representatives of key environmental groups, State Water Board staff, and State Water Board members. With our strategic and legal advice, consensus was attained regarding exclusion provisions that will enable Nossaman clients and others in the industry to carry out their health and safety activities on a streamlined basis.

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