The Lake County Department of Water Resources administers the ‘public lands’ of Clear Lake. It is necessary to seek official approval to spray or harvest weeds in Clear Lake because the waters of the lake constitute a public trust, and are not the private property of the lake shore land owner. Courts have established that lakeward of the low water line, Clear Lake is public property, and above that line, the water is considered a public easement to the land it covers. Considered waters of the United States, the lake was entrusted to the state of California. In 1973 administration of the lake was transferred by an act of the Legislature from the State Lands Commission to the County of Lake. The Water Resources Department is responsible for the management of Clear Lake including the issuance of aquatic plant management permits.
The County Agricultural Commissioner enforces laws concerning pesticide usage. This authority includes registration of various license and certificate holders, worker protection, reporting of pesticide usage and inspection of activities related to pesticide use to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
Food & Agriculture
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been engaged since 1994 in an effort to eradicate Hydrilla, a noxious and invasive aquatic weed. The eradication order is found in state law, and CDFA has broad authority over infested areas. While many public uses have been prohibited in Hydrilla infested water bodies in California, CDFA has been very cooperative with Lake County, allowing recreation to continue along side the eradication campaign.
Fish & Wildlife
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is responsible for protecting fish and wildlife habitat on public lands and public easements in the state. Since aquatic plants are important fish spawning and rearing habitat, CDFW was involved in the conditions placed on the aquatic plant management permit. CDFW also enforces the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and is in contact with Water Resources with regard to the ESA protections placed on the Clear Lake hitch and the need for any further safeguards for the hitch.
Water Resources Control Board
The State Water Resources Control Board enforces the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) in California. In 2001 federal courts declared that herbicide use in public waters requires compliance with the CWA. To meet that requirement, the County applied for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, which allows the continued use of certain state and federally registered herbicides in Clear Lake. The Department of Water Resources bears the burden of administration and compliance with that permit.