On January 15, 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), San Francisco District, issued a Regional General Permit (RGP) to the City of San José, City of Morgan Hill, City of Gilroy, County of Santa Clara, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency, for impacts to waters of the U.S. associated with many projects and activities covered by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP or Habitat Plan).
This 5-year permit provides a framework for integrating and streamlining waters permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act with the endangered species permitting already in place under the Habitat Plan. The RGP covers 17 categories of activities, setting thresholds for impacts that range from less than 0.1 acre to 0.5 acre and providing an expedited process for reviewing and processing project-specific waters permits. The RGP represents a major milestone in the implementation of the Habitat Plan. The RGP will help to ensure consistent and streamlined waters permitting for projects covered by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan that have impacts to waters of the U.S. This RGP is only the second issued in the United States associated with an approved HCP (the first was in East Contra Costa County).
Next Steps: The Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency is pursuing an In-Lieu Fee Program with the USACE-led Interagency Review Team to ensure that mitigation fees paid to the Habitat Plan will fulfill waters mitigation requirements under Section 404. To expand the streamlining of the RGP even further, the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency will also be pursuing a programmatic water quality certification under the Clean Water Act Section 401 from the San Francisco Bay and Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Boards and State Water Resources Control Board.