National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) - 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 has solicited input from stakeholders and California Native American Tribal interests by conducting five public meetings with staff of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in January and February 2017 in Fresno, San Bernardino, Orleans, Redding, and Sacramento prior to developing a permit or waiver for this activity. See “Hot News!” below for details on the public meetings.

Hot News! - NPDES Permit Development

The State Water Board staff is developing a Statewide General National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit to regulate discharges associated with suction dredge mining activities discharging to a water of the United States pursuant to its authority to implement the federal Clean Water Act and the state Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act. The State Water Board staff anticipates releasing a draft permit for public comment by February 2019. The Board staff will consider all public comments that it receives on the draft permit and will make any necessary revisions in response to the public comment. After staff makes any necessary changes in response to public comment, the Board will consider adoption of a revised, draft permit at a public meeting. Interested parties will have the opportunity to directly testify before the Board regarding the draft permit. The State Water Board anticipates that the public meeting to consider adoption of the draft permit will take place in the Spring of 2019. Staff will notify all the interested parties that have registered under the Email subscription for Suction Dredge Mining when the draft NPDES Permit will be posted for review and comment.

Previous Workshops per SB 637

Staff conducted five 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 were held in: Fresno on January 17, 2017; San Bernardino on January 18, 2017; Orleans on January 24, 2017; Redding on January 25, 2017; and Sacramento on February 6, 2017. The following links provide the video of the Sacramento meeting, the slides presented by Water Board staff at the Sacramento meeting, and a Frequently Asked Questions document:

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":

Other Permitting Links

Background Information

Historic Information


General Information

Renan Jauregui
(916) 341-5505