Emergency Water Conservation Regulations for Timber Harvesters Enacted

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Conservation Will Protect Drinking Water and Help Provide Flows for Fish During Drought

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In light of the unprecedented drought, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adopted emergency regulations to conserve water for fish habitat and drinking water for Californians. The regulations became effective June 19.

The new Water Drafting Emergency Regulations require approved timber harvesting plans on private timber lands and plans pending approval to disclose all water drafting operations, drafting rates and volumes, compliance with Fish and Game Code Section 1600 and potential effects on downstream aquatic habitat. The emergency regulations will be in place for 180 days.

“The severity of the drought we are experiencing makes it imperative for all of us to conserve water wherever possible,” stated Dr. J. Keith Gilless, California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection chairman. “These emergency regulations will help land owners evaluate the cumulative effects of forest management on all resource systems and values.”

Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) are drafting a joint letter to private timberland owners and foresters. The letter summarizes the new regulations and provides a reminder that approved timber harvesting plans require compliance with Fish and Game Code Section 1600. The letter will also state that timber harvesting plans must provide background on potential drought impacts to fisheries, wildlife and domestic water supplies. Licensed timber operators will be required to ensure that water is not removed in quantities harmful to domestic water supplies, fish, wildlife or other current beneficial uses of the water.

State agencies responsible for regulatory compliance of timber operations will continue to pay close attention to water diversion activities on all active timber harvesting plans and will work to ensure that water conservation is implemented to the extent feasible.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit saveourH2O.org to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

Media Contacts:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824
Janet Upton, CAL FIRE Communications, (916) 704-4287