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 draft statewide NPDES permit for discharges from suction dredge mining activities.. See “Announcements” below for details.


Updated Frequently Asked Questions

Draft Statewide NPDES Permit Development

State Water Board staff has developed a draft Statewide General National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit to regulate discharges associated with suction dredge mining activities pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act. State Water Board staff held a public workshop on May 28, 2020 to explain the statewide draft Permit. The State Water Board held a public hearing on August 5, 2020 to hear oral comments. The State Water Board is extending the previously established public comment due date of August 24, 2020 indefinitely to allow State Water Board staff to provide high resolution maps for detailed identification of the areas in which suction dredge mining is proposed to be authorized under the proposed General Permit. Please see the Second Revised Public Notice below for more details. The State Water Board will consider all comments prior to consideration of the proposed General Permit. Please sign up on the Lyris email system to receive the latest updates.

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