RCA Associates, Inc. has been working with clients to deal with regulatory and jurisdictional issues for over 20 years. Firstly, anytime a project has the potential to impact any stream channel or wetland that meet the criteria as Waters of the US (WoUS) or Waters of the State (WoS), the appropriate agencies must be contacted, and most importantly, must obtain the applicable permits. The following information breaks down each agency and their level of jurisdiction as it relates to completing projects that will have an impact on waterways. Links to each of these agencies websites are also provided.
Streambed Alteration Agreements (1602)
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has jurisdiction over impacts that would alter any river, stream, or lake and conditions projects to conserve existing fish and wildlife resources (Fish and Game code section 1600-1602). For more information please visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/LSA
CDFW must be notified if you have a project that would do any of the following:
1.) Divert or obstruct the natural flow of any river, stream, or lake
2.) Change the bed, channel, or bank of any river, stream, or lake
3.) Use material from any river, stream, or lake
4.) Deposit or dispose of material into any river, stream, or lake
CDFW requires a Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement (LSA), often referred to as a 1602 permit on all project that meet the aforementioned criteria.
US Army Core of Engineers (404)
The United States Army Core of Engineers (USCOE) has permitting authority over activities affecting waters of the United States (WoUS). Waters of the United States include surface waters such as navigable waters and their tributaries, all interstate waters and their tributaries, natural lakes, all wetlands adjacent to other waters, and all impoundments of these waters. This includes any stream channels that have identifiable banks even if no water is present (i.e., ephemeral stream channels or desert washes).
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires authorization from the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Corps of Engineers, for the discharge of dredged or fill material into all waters of the United States, including wetlands.
Discharges of fill material generally include, without limitation: placement of fill that is necessary for the construction of any structure, or impoundment requiring rock, sand, dirt, or other material for its construction; site-development fills for recreational, industrial, commercial, residential, and other uses; causeways or road fills; dams and dikes; artificial islands; property protection or reclamation devices such as riprap, groins, seawalls, breakwaters, and revetments; beach nourishment; levees; fill for intake and outfall pipes and subaqueous utility lines; fill associated with the creation of ponds; and any other work involving the discharge of fill or dredged material.
A Corps permit is required whether the work is permanent or temporary. Examples of temporary discharges include dewatering of dredged material prior to final disposal, and temporary fills for access roadways, cofferdams, as well as storage and work areas.
For more information on the USCOE permitting process and project specific requirements please visit https://www.spl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/
Regional Water Quality Control Board (401)
The California Water boards require a 401 water quality certification on any project affecting Waters of the State (WoS). This program regulates discharges of fill and dredged material under Clean Water Act Section 401 and also the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act.
This program protects all waters in its regulatory scope, but has special responsibility for wetlands, riparian areas, and headwaters. Because these waterbodies have high resource value, they are vulnerable to filling, and are not systematically protected by other programs. Furthermore, the program involves protection of special-status species and the regulation of hydromodification impacts. The Program encourages basin-level analysis and protection, because some functions of wetlands, riparian areas, and headwater streams – including pollutant removal, flood water retention, and habitat connectivity – are expressed at the basin or landscape level.
Most projects are regulated by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Boards). The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) directly regulates multi-regional projects and supports and coordinates the Program statewide.
For more information about the 401 water quality certification and wetlands program please visit https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cwa401/