State Water Resources Control Board Receiving Comments on Suction Dredge Mining
The California State Resources Control Board (the “Board”) is receiving written public comments and has scheduled a remote workshop on the proposed Statewide National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) Suction Dredge Mining General Permits for May 28, 2020. The purpose of the workshop is to provide information regarding the development of the proposed General Permits. The Board also scheduled a remote public hearing for June 17, 2020.
The use of vacuum and suction dredge equipment has been statutorily prohibited since 2009. Senate Bill 637 (“SB 637”), which became effective on January 1, 2016, provides a framework to lift the statutory prohibition on suction dredge mining. Specifically, SB 637 expanded the definition of suction dredge mining and requires miners to obtain a Water Board permit or letter stating that no such permit is required, and requires miners to obtain a permit to suction dredge mine from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The proposed statewide NPDES General Permit would only provide coverage for mechanized and/or motorized dredge activities that take place in a waterbody, utilize a single intake suction nozzle, and directly discharge to a surface water of the United States. A copy of the Notice of Opportunity for Public Comments and Public Staff Workshop and Public Hearing can be accessed HERE.