Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a General Order and Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) that will help PCI and our partners streamline permitting and implementation for important habitat restoration projects.
The State Water Board adopted the General Order and certified the PEIR for Restoration Projects Statewide on August 16.
Previously, the State Water Board issued a general Water Quality Certification for small habitat restoration projects. Projects could only qualify if they did not exceed five acres or a cumulative total of 500 linear feet of stream bank or coastline. Larger restoration projects often had to obtain individual water quality certifications and/or waste discharge requirements, and securing individual authorization was time-consuming and increased the cost of regulatory compliance.
The adoption of the new General Order and accompanying PEIR was eagerly anticipated according to PCI Principal Environmental Planner/Project Manager Carrie Lukacic.
“The General Order not only makes it easier and less cumbersome to secure a permit from the Regional Water Board, it may provide CEQA compliance for restoration projects,” she says. “We are excited to work with our local folks at the Regional Water Board and look forward to introducing the use of available permitting efficiencies to others not as familiar with the use of the tools available for permitting restoration activities. We now have a method to permit both large- and small-scale restoration, which should help increase the pace and scale of critical habitat improvement needs.”
The General Order will provide coverage for the following kinds of restoration projects:
-Improvements to Stream Crossings and Fish Passage
-Removal of Small Dams, Tide Gates, Flood Gates, and Legacy Structures
-Bioengineered Bank Stabilization
-Restoration and Enhancement of Off-Channel and Side-Channel Habitat
-Water Conservation Projects
-Removal or Remediation of Pilings and Other In-Water Structures
-Removal of Nonnative Terrestrial and Aquatic Invasive Species and Revegetation with Native Plants
-Establishment, Restoration, and Enhancement of Tidal, Subtidal, and Freshwater Wetlands
-Establishment, Restoration, and Enhancement of Stream and Riparian Habitat
-Upslope Watershed Sites