Vegetation Treatment Water Quality Permitting

Department: Water Boards

Program Description: In July 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board developed and began implementing a streamlined statewide waste discharge permit (Order WQ 2021-0026-DWQ) for projects covered by the Board of Forestry’s Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) Programmatic Environmental Impact Report.  Projects that are found to be within the scope of the environmental impact report are automatically enrolled in the water board’s permit without additional application process and at no-cost to the permitees. Water Board staff have also added guidance for permitees and the public to the Water Board’s program webpage.  State water board staff are continuing to improve implementation by developing guidance information for the Regional Water Control Boards, template communications for permittees and by providing technical support to permitees.

Program Impact: The waste discharge permit leverages the CalVTP Programmatic Environmental Impact Report. This made the CalVTP a fully streamlined permit with no additional paperwork or fees, while still providing critical protection to California’s water resources.

Resilience in Action: The Water Boards:  The State and Regional Water Boards were able to provide recommendations to the San Jose Water Company (SJW) about their CalVTP project called the San Jose Water Company Forest Health Program – P1. This project is designed to improve forest health, increase climate resiliency, and reduce the risk of wildfire. Lack of vegetation management, climate change, periods of successive drought, and development in the wildland urban interface have contributed to substantial change in forested landscapes across Santa Clara County. This project is one component within a series of projects in the area as part of a landscape-scale wildfire resiliency effort.

The Water Boards advised SJW about specific Standard Project Requirements related to water quality based on the project’s planned vegetation treatment activities. This project has now become certified under the CalVTP process with just over 1,900 acres to be treated. The comment review process allowed the Water Boards to work together and share regional expertise, leading to sensible recommendations that contribute to both wildfire prevention and water quality protection.