Suction dredging

Suction dredging on the Trinity River in 2009.

The State Water Resources Control Board will continue to accept public written comments on the proposed Statewide Suction Dredge Mining General Permit (previously issued for public comments on May 12). Public written comments must be submitted no later than noon Monday, March 8.

The State Water Board staff is providing a draft high-resolution electronic map showing where the proposed Statewide Suction Dredge Mining General Permit would authorize suction dredge mining. Public written comments may address the draft high-resolution electronic map.

The Water Board staff will hold two public workshops to demonstrate the draft high-resolution electronic map to interested parties. A quorum of the State Water Board may be present at the public workshops; however, there will be no State Water Board action taken at the public workshops.

The public workshops will be held:

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 1 to 4 p.m.; and

Thursday, Jan. 28, 9 to noon.

There is no physical meeting location; video and teleconference only.

Suction dredging is statutorily defined as the use of a mechanized or motorized system for removing or assisting in the removal of, or the processing of, material from the bed, bank, or channel of a river, stream, or lake in order to recover minerals.

Suction dredge mining was statutorily prohibited in California in 2009. Through the 2015 passage of Senate Bill 637, the California Fish and Game Code and Water Code were amended, expanding the definition of suction dredge mining and requiring miners to obtain a Water Board Permit or letter stating no such permit is required and a Department of Fish and Wildlife Permit to suction dredge mine in California. To protect water quality, the Water Boards may prohibit any use of suction dredge mining equipment or method of suction dredge mining and may specify conditions or areas where suction dredge mining discharges remain prohibited.

The proposed General Permit, the draft electronic map, links to enlarged map snapshots of individual counties, and further corresponding permitting information are available on the State Water Board Suction Dredge Mining NPDES Program page (www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/npdes/suction_dredge_mining.html).

The State Water Board will accept written comments and evidence regarding this item. Evidence submitted during the Aug. 5 public hearing are part of the administrative record and need not be submitted again.

Written public comments must be addressed to:

Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board

State Water Resources Control Board

P.O. Box 100, Sacramento, CA 95812-2000 (mail)

1001 I Street, 24th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814 (hand-delivery)

Public comments may be submitted electronically, in pdf text format (if less than 15 megabytes in total size), to the Clerk to the Board via e-mail at: commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov. If the file is greater than 15 megabytes in total size, then the comment letter may be submitted by fax at 916-341-5620. Please indicate in the subject line: “Comment Letter – Suction Dredge Mining General Permit.”

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