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Protecting Streams and Wetlands

Streams and wetlands are essential elements of the Bay Area’s natural heritage. They also work in many ways to protect and enhance water quality throughout our region.

  • Streams and wetlands, and the water that flows through them, shape the landscape as they support the ecological processes all human, plant, and animal watershed residents depend on.
  • Aquatic and terrestrial habitats associated with streams and wetlands provide critical habitat for diverse plant and animal communities.
  • Vegetated riparian and wetland corridors protect and enhance water quality.
  • Healthy stream and wetland systems store flood waters, provide flood control during large storm events, and recharge groundwater.
  • The Water Board uses a “watershed approach” whenever possible. This means that we often consider the needs of an entire watershed when we work to improve the health of an ecosystem—rather than focusing on specific pollution problems or an isolated stream or species. Some important guidance and policy documents for watershed, stream, and wetlands protection and management are listed on our Resources Page

How does the Water Board protect streams and wetlands?
Water Board staff participate in numerous projects designed to protect streams and wetlands and promote healthy watersheds in the Bay Area



New! Use our spreadsheet tool to evaluate your project for 401 permit application

Water Board staff have developed a rapid assessment tool to make it easier and faster to submit a clear and complete permit application under Clean Water Act sections 401-404. The rapid assessment checklist is provided in spreadsheet form where you can answer questions and even do a few calculations. Submit this form with the permit application and the permit staff will appreciate your efforts to provide the project information we need to quickly approve your application. The questions on the form can also guide any CEQA or project documents or reports you may also want to submit.

To learn more about some of the thousands of wetland and riparian restoration projects underway around the Bay or already completed, click here.


Links to Other Agency and Partner Sites


Our staff work closely with local, state, and federal agencies and environmental groups to develop plans and programs to support stream and wetland health.