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Update on POLICY TO PROTECT WETLANDS AND RIPARIAN AREAS

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

–Larry

** High Priority **

Attached is a Revised Resolution – Staff Change#1 for the Wetlands & Riparian Areas.

Thank you,
Jeanine Townsend
Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street. 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 341-5600
Fax: (916) 341-5620
E-mail: jtownsend@waterboards.ca.gov

STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 2008–DEVELOPMENT OF A POLICY TO PROTECT WETLANDS AND RIPARIAN AREAS IN ORDER TO RESTORE AND MAINTAIN THE WATER QUALITY AND BENEFICIAL USES OF THE WATERS OF THE STATE

WHEREAS:
1. Over 85 percent of historic wetland and riparian acreage in California has been lost according to published research estimates. Remaining resources continue to be vulnerable to future impacts from projected population growth, land development, sea level rise, and climate change in California.
2. Although physically occupying only a small percentage of California watersheds, wetlands and riparian areas provide valuable water quality functions such as flood control, pollutant filtration, water supply and replenishment, recreation, and habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. Wetlands and riparian areas act to promote the health and existence of other vital natural resources, and provide significant economic benefits to California.
3. The value of wetlands and riparian areas has been recognized in California through the enactment of the California Wetlands Conservation Policy that sets a goal to “ensure no overall net loss and achieve a long-term net gain in the quantity, quality, and permanence of wetlands acreage and values in California in a manner that fosters creativity, stewardship, and respect for private property” (Executive Order W-59-93).
4. The State has relied primarily on requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.) (Clean Water Act) to protect wetlands and riparian areas for water quality goals.
5. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2001 and Rapanos v. United States, 2006) have reduced the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act over wetland and riparian areas by limiting the definition of “waters of the United States.” These decisions necessitate the use of California’s independent authorities under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Wat. Code, § 13000 et seq.) to protect these vital resources.
6. In 2003, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) issued a report to the Legislature titled, Regulatory Steps Needed to Protect and Conserve Wetlands Not Subject to the Clean Water Act (Supplemental Report of the 2002 Budget Act Item 3940-001-0001). This report reviewed the critical role that wetlands and riparian areas have in protecting the beneficial uses of waters throughout the State. Consistent with the State Water Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards’ (Regional Water Boards) (collectively California Water Boards) 2001 Watershed Management Initiative, this report further recognizes that a watershed-level approach is needed to protect wetlands and riparian areas and their associated water quality functions.
7. In 2004, State Water Board staff initiated a Workplan upon the California Environmental Protection Agency’s request (Workplan: Filling the Gaps in Wetland Protection) to address the waters of the State that are no longer protected under the Clean Water Act. This Workplan specified the need to adopt a State wetland definition to “provide a standard metric to help determine compensatory mitigation requirements and compliance with [the] ‘no net loss’ policy [Executive Order W-59-93].”