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UPDATE: COVID-19 and State and Federal Natural Resources Compliance Activities

The State Water Resources Control Board announced that timely compliance by the regulated community with all Water Board orders and other requirements (including regulations, permits, contractual obligations, and funding conditions) is generally considered to be an essential function during the COVID-19 response.  As a result, the Water Boards consider compliance with board-established orders and permits to be within the essential activities, essential governmental functions, or comparable exceptions to shelter-in-place directives.  The announcement recognizes that compliance activities should be conducted consistent with social distancing policies and that it may not be feasible to implement all actions needed for compliance.  But, the regulated community is responsible for reporting any lack of compliance due to the COVID-19 response to Water Board staff.

Similar announcements have not been issued by other California or federal wildlife agencies.  However, state and federal wildlife and clean water laws and permits remain in effect, and the regulated community likely will be expected to comply with all existing rules, regulations, and permit conditions unless it is unsafe to do so. 

The regulatory branches of the state and federal resource agencies, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Water Boards, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remain open for business, although staff are generally working remotely consistent with local and statewide shelter-in-place and social distancing orders.  Site visits have been postponed, which may affect ongoing permitting and reporting efforts, and until wildlife regulators can confirm site conditions, there may be delays satisfying permit conditions including conditions that are subject to monetary security deposits. 

Now is a good time to evaluate whether permit conditions can be met, including whether it is feasible to conduct spring wildlife monitoring, perform necessary site inspections, or move forward with plans for summertime resource restoration activities. 

Please contact Shawn Zovod with questions or for further information.

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