SACRAMENTO – The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) today
adopted rules to protect wetlands and other environmentally sensitive waterways throughout
More than 90 percent of California’s historic wetlands have been lost to development and other
human activity. Wetlands are a critical natural resource that protect and improve water quality,
provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and buffer developed areas from flooding and sea-level
The newly adopted rules provide a common, statewide definition of what constitutes a wetland.
They also provide consistency in the way the State Water Board and nine regional water
boards regulate activities to protect wetlands and other waterways, such as rivers and
streams, and bays and estuaries.
“Californians take pride in balancing both the ecologic and economic needs of our state,” said
State Water Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “It’s critical we established this consistent
statewide framework that protects and enhances our most sensitive water resources, while
creating regulatory certainty for housing, agriculture, water managers, conservationists, and
The rules have two components that support each other. First, the rules define what is
considered a wetland and include a framework for determining if a feature defined as a
wetland is a “water of the state” subject to regulation. Second, the rules clarify requirements for
permit applications to discharge dredged or fill material to any water of the state.
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