Highbanking Under Attack

Highbanking Under Attack

It took state law to ban dredging, but by regulatory action highbanking is now effectively banned.  The California Water Resources Board has decided they have regulatory authority over the water discharges from highbankers and they classify this water as “waste water.”  To legally highbank in the state of California  will now require you to possess a $1,120 permit from the Water Board.  It’s clear the state is determined to strangle off all mining and we can expect the same logic to apply to dredging.  The ground work for this was set in the draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report when the CDFG stated they had no regulatory authority over mercury, however they thought the Water Control Board should regulate the effluent from suction dredges.

An interesting, but not unexpected turn of events.  We’re not stupid and we knew this was coming.  It is a sad day when backroom deals with environmentalists can be made hidden from public view and regulators replace law with personal opinion.

Are you outraged enough now to take action or will you willingly let them take the rest of your rights?  Are you ready to stand with us and fight?  Join us in the fight to restore our rights, we aren’t promising it will be quick, nor will it be easy but we need every miner to join this fight.  If we don’t get organized you can count of further strangling of every legal method that free people can use to earn money.  Regulators are controlled by elected representatives of the people and they are accountable to the people.  We need you to contact your local representatives and voice your concern over this overstep by a bureaucracy.  The complete details of the new requirements for highbanking are provided below.

According to the California Department of Fish and Game website:

It is important for you to know that other environmental laws may apply to some of these mining practices. Be aware that Fish and Game Code section 5650 prohibits the placement of materials deleterious to fish, including sand and gravel from outside of the current water level, into the river or stream. Further, Fish and Game Code section 1602 requires that any person notify the Department of Fish and Game before substantially diverting or obstructing the natural flow of, or substantially changing or using any material from the bed, channel or bank of any river, stream or lake. Additional information is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/1600/ .

The State Water Resources Control Board has authority for the protection of water quality and has recently provided additional information regarding highbanking. The Department of Fish and Game recommends that you review the Highbanking Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provided at the following link:

If we follow the link to the Water Resources Control Board we find the following information reprinted here:

 Question: Can I use a highbanker or power sluice to recover gold?

Answer: Yes, under the following conditions:

The Fish and Game Code, the Clean Water Act, and the California Water Code prohibit you from discharging water and waste sediment from your highbanker or power sluice to an area such that it may enter a stream, river, lake, or other surface water body without a permit from the Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) responsible for the area where you’ll be mining. Currently there is no general permit available for discharges of water and waste sediment from highbankers or power sluices to streams, rivers, lakes, or other surface water bodies.

You can discharge water and waste sediment from your highbanker or power sluice to land but you must first apply for a permit from the Regional Water Board responsible for the area where you’ll be mining. To apply for a permit, you must file a Report of Waste Discharge with the Regional Water Board. You cannot begin mining until the Regional Water Board approves your Report of Waste Discharge and notifies you that either your permit has been issued or that a permit is not required because the discharge will not create or threaten to create a condition of pollution or nuisance. The minimum fee for the permit is $1120.00 but may be higher depending on the threat the discharge poses to water quality and the complexity of the discharge as determined by the Regional Water Board. See below for legal details.

 If you are diverting water from a riparian parcel for use on that parcel, you must have a riparian water right or be legally entitled to use riparian water rights for the parcel and you must file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use (Statement) with the State Water Resources Control Board’s (State Water Board) Division of Water Rights for each point of diversion. The fee for filing a Statement of Diversion and Use is $50.00. For general information about riparian water rights, and whether you have one, go to: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/waterrights/board_info/faqs.shtml. For information about Statements of Diversion and Use, and how to file one, go to: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/waterrights/board_info/faqs.shtml.

What are the fines for not obtaining the permit?

Answer: Violating conditions 1 and 2 may result in fines of up to $10,000 for each day, or if the matter is referred to the courts, fines up to $25,000 for each day in which the violation occurs.

Violating condition 3 may result in a fine of up to $1,000 plus $500 for each day the violation continues after 30 days of the State Water Board notification of the violation. Go to: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/board_info/faqs.shtml#toc178761086 for details.

Violating condition 4 may result in a fine of up to $500 per day of unauthorized diversion and use. Go to: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/board_info/faqs.shtml#toc178761086 for details.

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