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Suction Dredge Mining

California Fish and Game Code section 5653.1, subdivision (b) has statutorily prohibited the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment in the state since 2009. However, Senate Bill 637 which became effective on January 1, 2016 has amended section 5653 of the Fish and Game Code and added section 13172.5 of the California Water Code to provide a framework to lift the statutory prohibition on suction dredge mining.

Consistent with the requirements of Senate Bill 637, Water Board staff is soliciting input from stakeholders and California Native American Tribal interests by conducting four public meetings with staff of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in January and February 2017 in San Bernardino, Fresno, Sacramento, and Redding prior to developing a permit or waiver for this activity. See “Hot News!” below for details on the public meetings.

Hot News!

Staff will be conducting four public meetings throughout the state in early 2017 to solicit input from stakeholders and California Native American Tribal interests prior to developing a Water Board permit or waiver for suction dredge mining. The public meetings are scheduled as follows: Fresno - January 17, 2017; San Bernardino - January 18, 2017; Orleans - January 24, 2017; Redding - January 25, 2017; and Sacramento - February 6, 2017. The following documents provide detailed information regarding these upcoming meetings:

Permit or Waiver Development

After the public meetings, State Water Board staff will draft recommendations on how to appropriately regulate suction dredge mining for State Water Board consideration. Staff is proposing to hold a workshop and adoption hearing where stakeholders and California Native American Tribal interests may speak directly to the State Water Board. Staff is proposing a final State Water Board determination on regulating suction dredge mining in spring 2018.

Email Subscription

To receive notice of future public workshops and other communications from the State Water Board regarding suction dredge mining, you may subscribe to an email notification list by following the link below, choosing the Water Quality list, and selecting "Suction Dredge Mining": http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/swrcb_subscribe.shtml

Other Permitting Links

Background Information

Historic Information



Russell Norman
(916) 323-5598


Philip Isorena
(916) 341-5544