California Department of Fish and Wildlife
culvert work

Culvert Work
CDFW photo by JoAnn Dunn

Lake and Streambed Alteration Program

CDFW is responsible for conserving, protecting, and managing California's fish, wildlife, and native plant resources. To meet this responsibility, the Fish and Game Code (Section 1602) requires an entity to notify CDFW of any proposed activity that may substantially modify a river, stream, or lake.

Notification of Lake or Streambed Alteration

Notification is required by any person, business, state or local government agency, or public utility that proposes an activity that will:

  • substantially divert or obstruct the natural flow of any river, stream or lake;
  • substantially change or use any material from the bed, channel, or bank of, any river, stream, or lake; or
  • 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.

The notification requirement applies to any work undertaken in or near a river, stream, or lake that flows at least intermittently through a bed or channel. This includes ephemeral streams, desert washes, and watercourses with a subsurface flow. It may also apply to work undertaken within the flood plain of a body of water.

If you are planning an activity that requires CDFW notification, you will need to provide your regional CDFW office with a completed notification form and the corresponding fee.

Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement

If CDFW determines that the activity may substantially adversely affect fish and wildlife resources, a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement will be prepared. The Agreement includes reasonable conditions necessary to protect those resources and must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The entity may proceed with the activity in accordance with the final Agreement.