5C Waiver

Introduction

On May 2, 2013, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted Order No. R1-2013-0004, Waiver of Waste discharge Requirements and General Water Quality Certification for County Road Management and Activities conducted Under the Five Counties Salmonid Conservation Program in the Counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Siskiyou, and Trinity In the North Coast Region (5C Waiver). The Five Counties Salmonid Conservation Program (5C Program) is a county road maintenance and project program which includes much of the North Coast Region, covering the counties of Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, and portions of Siskiyou and Mendocino, collectively referred to as the 5 Counties or 5C. The 5C Program is designed to protect salmonid species and water quality during county road maintenance and associated project activities. The 5C Roads Manual contains best management practices (BMPs) for road management activities.

There are three main components to the proposed Waiver, all of which rely on the implementation of procedures and Best Management Practices (BMPs) contained within the 5C Road Manual. These are: 1) the Waiver itself, 2) a Clean Water Act Section 401 General Water Quality Certification (General §401 Water Quality Certification), and 3) a Monitoring and Reporting Program (MRP).

The included General §401 Water Quality Certification provides certification to county projects requiring Clean Water Act Section 404 (CWA §404) permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In order to streamline the amount of paperwork counties need to submit, the proposed Waiver includes a provision allowing for use of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Code §1602 Lake or Streambed Alteration Notification (FWC §1602 Notification) to meet the requirements for application for General §401 Water Quality Certification. This General §401 Water Quality Certification has a reduced fee from a standard 401 Certification.

The MRP contains four types of monitoring which are outlined in Chapter 10 of the 5C Manual. They are: implementation, effectiveness, photopoint, and project monitoring. Implementation and effectiveness monitoring are required for all projects. Photopoint and project monitoring are reserved for more complex projects that may require an evaluation of BMP performance over an extended period of time, and are implemented at the discretion of the Executive Officer.

Annual reports are also required as part of the MRP. Annual reports are required to contain summaries of implementation and effectiveness monitoring, corrective actions taken in the event of BMP failure, progress on legacy site inventories and treatment, illicit discharge investigations, and trainings attended by county road staff.

As the lead agency for development of the proposed Waiver, Regional Water Board staff prepared, with input from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the project (SCH No. 2013032042). One of the goals in preparing a MND was to reduce the time and cost for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analyses for projects done under the 5C Program and to free up county resources for project implementation. The Mitigated Negative Declaration CEQA document is designed to cover all projects done under the 5C Program, eliminating the need and associated costs for an individual CEQA analysis to be done for each project.

Covered Activities

The Waiver covers all Road Maintenance activities and Road Project activities within the Five Counties (5C) Roads Manual, with the exception of bridge painting. Road Maintenance activities include activities that are conducted as part of routine annual road maintenance, generally do not take place within the channel of a watercourse, and have a low likelihood of impacts to water quality. Routine annual road maintenance activities rarely, if ever, require a CWA §404 permit.

Road Project activities are those that are generally not considered to be part of routine annual road maintenance, that may take place within the channel of a watercourse or are directly connected to a watercourse, and that may require a CWA §404 permit. Road Project activities requiring CWA §404 permitting will also need the General §401 Water Quality Certification contained in the Waiver.

Who should file for coverage

Any county, or non-county entity, implementing the 5C Program, that is proposing to conduct road maintenance or road project activities, is eligible for coverage under the Waiver.

How to file for coverage

To receive Waiver coverage for Road Maintenance and Road Project activities, the discharger must submit to the Regional Water Board Executive Officer a Notice of Intent (NOI) signed by a county roads Superintendent or their authorized representative (Attachment A of the Waiver). The NOI certifies the discharger's intent to implement the 5C Program and to comply with conditions of the Waiver. Coverage of Road Maintenance activities will be valid for the life of the Waiver, provided the discharger continues to meet applicable Waiver conditions, including monitoring and reporting.

Road Project activities requiring the General §401 Water Quality Certification are required to follow Waiver requirements as well as the following: (excerpted from pages 14 and 15 of the 5C Waiver):

  1. By March 1 each year, dischargers seeking Waiver coverage for Road Projects shall submit to the Regional Water Board a list of the planned Road Projects for which they are seeking Waiver coverage for the upcoming calendar year.
  2. Each project in the list shall, at a minimum, contain the following information:
  1. The Project Name.
  2. A description of where the Project is located. Include such features as the watershed, the nearest river or creek, and any useful reference points. A map with sufficient detail so as to easily identify the project's location is acceptable. Maps may contain more than one project, provided each project is clearly labeled.
  3. An indication of whether the Project will require the General 401 Water Quality Certification contained in this Waiver.
  4. A description of the project with enough detail to provide an overview. For projects requiring the General WQ Certification, the description from the General §401 WQ Certification or LSA 1602 application shall suffice for the project description.
  5. The anticipated Project start and end date.
  6. The name, mailing address, email address, and phone number for the Project lead staff.

For each Road Project requiring a General §401 Water Quality Certification, a completed application for General §401 Water Quality Certification and/or Waste Discharge Requirements (Dredge/Fill) (Attachment B of the Waiver) must be submitted to the Regional Water Board at least 30 days prior to the commencement of activities. Road Projects may have multiple sites and involve multiple activities.

Only one application is needed for each Road Project. Applications for Road Projects with multiple work sites will need to include information on the work to be done at each site. If a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lake or Streambed Alteration Notification (FWC §1602 Notification) is required for the proposed project, the FWC §1602 Notification form may be substituted for the General §401 Water Quality Certification application.

If the General §401 Water Quality Certification application, or FWC §1602 Notification, is complete the Regional Water Board will notify the discharger of receipt of the application and application fee, and the initiation of a 30-day review period.

For further information, please contact Regional Board Staff member, Maggie Robinson at (707) 576-2292, or at maggie.robinson@waterboards.ca.gov.