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New State Water Board Policy Has Potential to Streamline Water Quality Compliance for Wineries

In a welcome development for wineries, the State Water Resources Control Board has circulated an administrative draft of a general order (“General Order”) aimed at streamlining the often daunting challenge of complying with California’s water quality requirements. Currently, process water that results from a winery’s production and sanitation activities is considered “waste” under the Water Code and accordingly, unauthorized discharge of process water to land—even on a winery’s own property—is currently prohibited. The proposed General Order would allow winery discharge to be in compliance if it conforms with the conditions of the General Order and a notice of intent has been filed online. This change substantially reduces the administrative burden currently associated with discharge of process water. Wineries should review the conditions proposed in the General Order and weigh in as to the practical impact on their business and operations. Public outreach workshops are currently underway, with the final workshop to be held in Napa on May 13. The policy is still in draft form, and wineries and other interested members of the public will have yet another opportunity to weigh in during a formal public comment period prior to adoption.

This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s draft General Order. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions.

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