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Proposed State-Level Wetlands Regulations in California: Protections and Complications

The state is seeking to protect wetlands from federal regulation rollbacks, but broader protections could also mean more costly and cumbersome processes.
September 13, 2018, 10am PDT | Camille Fink
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Natural Resources Conservation Service's Wetlands Reserve Program
Gary Kramer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

California is looking to put into place a new wetlands regulatory program to counter Trump administration plans to reverse federal protections. Matt Weiser takes a closer look at what this proposal would mean for state water officials and developers.

Weiser reports that the state program would use a much broader definition of what constitutes a wetland. Current federal regulations consider hydrology, soils, and vegetation. Under the state program, wetlands would be identified by hydrology or soils and they could have vegetation or not. As a result, artificial or constructed wetlands would qualify for state protection.

The state program could also include regulation of spreading basins throughout the state, writes Weiser. Water officials have expressed concern that requiring permits would turn a process essential to recharging groundwater into a costly one. In addition, regulation of farmers, who work with both soil and water, could become a complex process requiring state and federal permits and would be a burden on water agencies.

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Published on Friday, September 7, 2018 in Water Deeply
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