Code Section Group

Water Code - WAT


  ( Division 4 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 368. )

CHAPTER 4.5. Stream Courses [7047 - 7049]
  ( Chapter 4.5 added by Stats. 1951, Ch. 722. )


No person may alter, divert or deflect the course of any nonnavigable stream in any surface mining dredging operation without first obtaining the approval of the board of supervisors of the county in which dredging is being done.

Nothing in this section shall be construed as conflicting with the powers of the State Reclamation Board or the California Debris Commission or contractors or permittees carrying out flood control projects under authority of either board or commission.

(Amended by Stats. 1955, Ch. 481.)


(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the protection, restoration, and enhancement of urban creek channels provide potential benefits to the state by combining an effective and efficient means of flood damage reduction with the preservation and enhancement of natural environmental values. The Legislature further finds that urban creek protection, restoration, and enhancement are best undertaken by local agencies and organizations with assistance from the state. It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this section, to restore the ecological viability of creek environments located in predominantly urban areas, thereby enhancing aesthetic, recreational, and fish and wildlife values.

(b) (1) The director may establish a program of flood damage reduction and urban creek restoration known as the Urban Streams Restoration Program. The program shall consist of both of the following components:

(A) The development of the capability by the department to respond to requests from local agencies and organizations for planning and design assistance for efficient and effective urban creek protection, restoration, and enhancement.

(B) To the extent that funds are provided, a process for awarding competitive grants.

(2) For purposes of this section, urban creek protection, restoration, and enhancement include, but are not limited to, the maintenance of channel capacity, channel stabilization, vegetation management, the reduction of water quality impairments and nonpoint source water pollution, the establishment of parkways for public use that benefit flood control and water quality, and adaptive management to meet program objectives. Where appropriate, the protection, restoration, and enhancement shall utilize efficient, nonstructural low-maintenance flood protection techniques. The department shall utilize in this program its expertise in a variety of disciplines, including, but not limited to, soil bioengineering, hydrology, and plant ecology.

(3) (A) The department shall maintain a balance in allocating the money annually available for grants to small urban creek restoration projects and large urban stream restoration projects, allocating not less than 35 percent to both small and large projects. For purposes of this section, “small urban creek restoration projects” are projects for which total costs, including acquisition and restoration costs, are below one million dollars ($1,000,000) and “large urban stream restoration projects” are projects for which total costs, including acquisition and restoration costs, are one million dollars ($1,000,000) or more.

(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), if an insufficient number of qualified projects are available to fully meet the allocation requirement, the department may grant funds to any project that is otherwise qualified, in order to ensure that all available funds are used efficiently.

(c) In responding to requests for assistance, the department shall give priority to those projects that are being planned in conjunction with, or in lieu of, local flood control projects. The department may award grants and contracts to local agencies and organizations as provided for in the budget of the department. Participating local agencies and organizations shall follow procedures, plans, and practices that are acceptable to the department, and shall conform to guidelines established by the department that define the level of contribution and participation required by local agencies and organizations.

The department shall coordinate the program with the Department of Fish and Wildlife during the formulation of guidelines and project planning for urban creek protection, restoration, and enhancement. The department shall also consult with the Department of Fish and Wildlife on project criteria which may include economic, environmental, and social benefits to be achieved.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the duties and responsibilities of the department be identified as the Urban Streams Restoration Program and be carried out by an office or staff designated for this purpose. Information on how to obtain planning, design, and financial assistance should be readily accessible to the public.

(e) As used in this section, “urban creek” means a creek, stream, or river that crosses built-up residential, commercial, or industrial property, or that crosses land where, in the near future, the land use will be residential, commercial, or industrial.

(f) For the purposes of this section, eligible activities include, but are not limited to, the maintenance of channel capacity and stabilization of the morphological equilibrium of a natural channel for purposes of flood damage reduction, erosion control, and bank stabilization which may include nonstructural as well as structural projects.

(g) The department may adopt regulations that define “adaptive management” for the purposes of the Urban Streams Restoration Program, and establish criteria to fund projects that include adaptive management activities.

(h) The department may amend or utilize existing regulations for approving competitive grants. The regulations may include, but are not limited to, an application process, grant approval criteria, and grantee’s reporting requirements. The department shall annually make available to the public, in a form that is readily accessible, information regarding the status of funds appropriated for these purposes and projects that received grants.

(i) In order to address the unique ecological, flood control, water quality, and hydrological conditions associated with urban creeks and watersheds on the California-Mexico border, the department shall consult with the California-Mexico Border Relations Council to establish criteria to fund projects that improve conditions for cross-border urban creeks.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 668, Sec. 9. (AB 965) Effective January 1, 2016.)


(a) Upon an appropriation of funds from the Legislature, the department shall establish a program to implement watershed-based riverine and riparian stewardship improvements by providing technical and financial assistance in support of projects that reduce flood risk, restore and enhance fish populations and habitat, improve water quality, achieve climate change benefits, and in general ensure resilient ecological function within areas that include, but are not limited to, urban or urbanizing areas of the state.

(b) The program shall support the purposes of and be coordinated with the Urban Streams Restoration Program established pursuant to Section 7048, fish passage improvements, and other similar programs to accomplish increased ecological, stream management, climate, and community improvement benefits from state and other funds available for riverine stewardship projects. The department may participate in and support local partnerships, including, but not limited to, in disadvantaged communities, to ensure projects incorporate the best-available science, assessment data, and ecologically relevant practices, and address state and local community needs and priorities.

(c) The program shall include all of the following elements:

(1) Support for partnerships with local agencies, nonprofit organizations, resource conservation districts, and community groups to identify multibenefit opportunities, local needs, and watershed restoration or enhancement objectives. Partnerships shall include local community nonprofit organizations and other state agencies as appropriate and to the degree those agencies and organizations are able to participate.

(2) Early engagement by the department. Engagement in conceptualizing and defining the project shall be prioritized over the design, construction, and operation of a completed project.

(3) Assistance in planning the natural resource restoration, landscaping, and infrastructure elements of a project consistent with appropriate local and regional land use and resource recovery plans.

(4) Design assistance to ensure a project will protect or enhance natural river and stream process and function using the best bioengineering and ecological practices while considering low-impact development, energy and water conservation, and community access and use for local recreation, trails, and other purposes.

(5) Evaluation and assessment processes to monitor success in meeting riverine stewardship goals and community needs.

(6) Assistance, as appropriate, with project administration, including, but not limited to, communication among partnership groups, enhancing the capacity of communities to effectively participate, and looking for and managing various funds obtained for the project.

(7) Plans or schedules delineating the work to be completed by the department and each partner.

(d) The department may provide technical assistance for the purposes of this section either directly or otherwise, including, but not limited to, by collaborating with other state agencies, appropriate California State University or University of California programs, or other similar programs, providing educational development and field experience for students in watershed sciences.

(e) Grant funds available for the purposes of Section 7048 or this section may be available for use by the recipient for design, engineering, and other technical assistance for the purposes of the program.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 92, Sec. 216. (SB 1289) Effective January 1, 2019.)

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