Stream Maintenance Program Manual, CEQA, and Permitting

Horizon Water and Environment (Horizon) assisted the Sonoma County Water Agency to develop their Stream Maintenance Program (SMP). Under the SMP, routine channel maintenance activities including sediment removal, vegetation removal and thinning, and bank stabilization are performed annually to maintain conveyance capacity in county flood control channels. Prior to the SMP, maintenance projects were permitted individually. This resulted in project uncertainty, delays, and high permitting costs. Horizon developed a comprehensive programmatic approach to achieve long-term 10-year and 15-year permits with multiple regulatory agencies. Primary consultant activities included:

  • Writing a landmark and award winning SMP Manual describing program activities, resources, and impact avoidance and minimization approaches.
  • Obtaining 35+ regulatory permits (100% successful) from USACE, two RWQCBs, CDFG, USFWS for individual maintenance projects during the 2006-2008 interim period while program was under development.
  • Obtaining all long-term programmatic permits from the same agencies listed above to serve the program for the coming 10-15 years.
  • Developing a creative and flexible mitigation program integrating on-site restoration activities with off-site watershed-based collaborative projects with other agencies, private landowners, and non-profit organizations.
  • Conducting CEQA analysis and writing an exemplary and certified Program EIR document.
  • Conducting successful outreach with regulatory staff and watershed stakeholders.
  • Conducting several technical studies including riparian vegetation mapping, wetlands inventory, sensitive species and habitat mapping, and cultural resources assessment to support the multiple permitting processes.
  • Developing treatment templates for sediment removal, banks stabilization, and vegetation management activities.

The SCWA SMP Manual won the 2009 Project Award of Excellence by the Floodplain Management Association (FMA) and the 2011 Outstanding Environmental Resource Document from the California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP).  Beyond the technical expertise, regulatory strategy, and project management acumen provided by Horizon; the Horizon team demonstrated a consistent commitment to the client’s needs.  The SCWA SMP project documents can be reviewed at: http://www.scwa.ca.gov/stream-maintenance-program/