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California Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement (19-CA-h)

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) is California’s state agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and management of fish, wildlife, and native plant species, and the habitat necessary to support biologically sustainable populations of those species. California Department of Fish and Wildlife: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Hydroelectric Projects.


The CDFW requires the approval of a Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement for any project that may alter, change, or deposit materials into a streambed or lakebed as described in Section 1602 of California’s Fish and Game Code, either during construction or as a permanent installation. California Fish and Game Code Section 1602.


Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement Process

19-CA-h.1 - Notification of Streambed or Lakebed Alteration

The developer must notify the CDFW prior to commencing with a project if the project may:

  1. Substantially divert or obstruct the natural flow of any river, stream or lake;
  2. Substantially change or use any material from the bed, channel, or bank of, any river, stream, or lake; or
  3. Deposit or dispose of debris, waste, or other material containing crumbled, flaked, or ground pavement where it may pass into any river, stream or lake.

CDFG § 1602(a).

For purposes of the streambed or lakebed alteration notification requirement, the term “stream” includes all perennial, ephemeral, and intermittent streams.

The Notification of Lake or Streambed Alteration application is available at: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=3754&inline

The notification must include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • A detailed description of the project’s location, and a map;
  • The name (if any) of the river, stream, or lake affected;
  • A detailed project description, including, but not limited to, construction plans and drawings (if applicable);
  • A copy of documents prepared pursuant to Division 13 of California’s Public Resources Code (commencing with Section 21000);
  • A copy of other applicable permits or agreements previously issued by local, state, or federal agencies; and
  • Any other information the CDFW requires.

CDFG § 1602(a)(1).

19-CA-h.2 – Pay Applicable Fees

Along with the notification of streambed or lakebed alteration, the developer must submit payment of applicable fees to the CDFW. The fee amount is based upon a graduated fee schedule, established by the Director of the CDFW, to cover the CDFW’s total costs for (among other things) conducting inspections of the project and preparing and submitting agreements to the developer. The fee for any streambed or lakebed alteration agreement may not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000). CDFG §§ 1602(a)(3), 1609.

The fee schedule for a Streambed or Lakebed Alteration Agreement is available at: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=75421&inline

The CDFW encourages developers to contact the agency with any questions regarding applicable fees.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Filing Fees

If a draft or final California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document has already been prepared for the project, the developer must provide the CDFW with proof that the necessary CEQA filing fees have been paid before the CDFW will continue with its review of the proposed project.

See Notification of Lake or Streambed Alteration Application, Section 14, available at: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=3754&inline.

19-CA-h.3 to 19-CA-h.4 – Review Notification for Completeness

The CDFW conducts a preliminary review of the developer’s notification of streambed or lakebed alteration to determine whether the notification is complete. CDFG § 1602(a)(2). If necessary, the CDFW may require a site inspection of the project location to ensure that the notification submitted completely and accurately describes the proposed project.

If, based upon CDFW’s review, the CDFW determines that the developer’s notification is incomplete, the CDFW will notify the developer and request the additional information needed to continue with the Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement Process. CDFG § 1602(a)(2).

19-CA-h.5 – Will the Project Substantially Adversely Affect an Existing Fish or Wildlife Resource?

Based upon its inspection of the developer’s proposed hydropower project, the CDFW determines whether the project will substantially adversely affect an existing fish or wildlife resource. California Fish and Game Code Section 1600 et seq..

19-CA-h.6 to 19-CA-h.7 – No Substantial Adverse Affect

If the CDFW determines that the proposed project will not substantially adversely affect an existing fish or wildlife resource, the CDFW informs the developer of its determination in writing. The developer may commence with the project without an agreement, provided the developer conducts the project as described in the notification and complies with any measures included for the protection of fish and wildlife resources. CDFG § 1602(a)(4)(A)(i).

19-CA-h.8 – Draft Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement

If the CDFW determines the proposed project may substantially adversely affect an existing fish or wildlife resource, the CDFW must issue a draft final agreement to the developer within 60 days. The draft final agreement must describe the fish and wildlife the CDFW believes the proposed project may substantially adversely affect and must include any reasonable measures the CDFW deems necessary to protect the described resources. CDFG §§ 1602(a)(4)(B), 1603(a).

If the CDFW does not issue a draft agreement within 60 days of receiving the developer’s notification of streambed or lakebed alteration, the developer may proceed with the project as described in the notification, including any measures included for the protection of fish and wildlife resources. CDFG § 1602(a)(4)(D).

19-CA-h.9 to 19-CA-h.10 – Are Protective Measures in Draft Agreement Acceptable to the Developer?

Within 30 days of receiving the draft agreement, the developer must notify the CDFW, in writing, of whether it agrees to the protective measures included in the draft for the protection of fish and wildlife resources.

If the developer agrees to the protective measures included in the draft agreement, the developer must return a signed copy of the agreement to the CDFW.

Once a signed copy of the agreement is received, the CDFW issues a final agreement.

See element 19-CA-h.17 - Final Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement, below.

If the developer fails to respond within 90 days of receiving the draft agreement, the CDFW may withdraw the agreement and require the developer to resubmit the notification of streambed or lakebed alteration. CDFG § 1603(a).

19-CA-h.11 – Notify CDFW of Disputed Protective Measures

If the developer does not agree to the protective measures included in the draft agreement, the developer must notify the CDFW within 30 days of receiving the draft agreement, in writing, of those measures it finds unacceptable. CDFG § 1603(a).

If the developer fails to respond within 90 days of receiving the draft agreement, the CDFW may withdraw the agreement and require the developer to resubmit the notification of streambed or lakebed alteration. CDFG § 1603(a).

19-CA-h.12 to 19-CA-h.13 – Conduct Meetings to Resolve Disagreements

Within 14 days of receiving the developer’s request for a meeting to resolve any disagreements over the protective measures included in the draft agreement, the CDFW must meet with the developer. CDFG § 1603(a).

If the developer and the CDFW reach a mutual agreement regarding the protective measures necessary for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife resources, the CDFW issues a final agreement. See element 19-CA-h.17 - Final Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement, below.

19-CA-h.14 to 19-CA-h.15 – Request Appointment of Arbitrators to Resolve Disagreement

If the developer and the CDFW are unable to reach a mutual agreement concerning the protective measures necessary for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife resources, the developer may request, in writing, the appointment of a panel of arbitrators to resolve the disagreement.

Upon receipt of the developer’s request, the CDFW and the developer must appoint a panel of arbitrators. The panel of arbitrators is comprised of three persons, including:

  • One representative selected by the CDFW;
  • One representative selected by the developer; and
  • One representative (with scientific expertise relevant to the fish and wildlife resources that may be substantially affected) who is mutually agreed upon by both parties and will serve as the panel chair.

CDFG § 1603(b). Each party is responsible for paying the fee/cost of its appointed representative and paying half the fee/cost of the representative mutually agreed upon by the CDFW and the developer.

19-CA-h.16 – Issue a Decision Regarding Protection Measures

Within 14 days from the date the panel was established, the panel of arbitrators issues a decision regarding the protection measures to be included in the final agreement. The panel of arbitrator’s decision is binding on both the CDFW and the developer. However, under §1604, either party may petition the court to confirm, correct, or vacate the decision.

CDFG § 1603(b).

19-CA-h.17 – Final Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement

The CDFW issues a written final agreement, signed by the agency, containing all of the protective measures deemed necessary for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife resources. The developer may not proceed with the project until it receives a copy of the final agreement, signed by the agency, and must conduct the project in accordance with the protective measures included in the agreement. CDFG § 1602(a)(4)(B).

The CDFW will not issue a final streambed/lakebed alteration agreement until the lead CEQA Agency has issued or adopted a final California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document and all applicable fees are paid in full.

Similar to the federal NEPA process, CEQA is the state legislation governing environmental protection issues in California. Under CEQA, every development permit is assigned a “lead agency” to coordinate the environmental review and issue a final environmental document. For more information on California’s CEQA process, see:

State Environmental Review Process:
9-CA-a




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California Environmental Protection Agency-Instream Flows Supervisor

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