Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program
General Order Information

Adopted General Order

The recently adopted General Order provides a mechanism for water quality compliance:

Enrollment in this Order does not preclude the need for permits that may be required by other governmental agencies, nor does it supersede any requirements, ordinances, or regulations of any other regulatory agency, including necessary certification and permitting for the application of pesticides and proper handling and disposal of solid and domestic wastes.

The General Order regulates the discharge of wastes from cannabis cultivation activities to waters of the state. This General Order does not authorize, endorse, sanction, permit, or approve the cultivation, use, or sale of cannabis.

General Order Overview

The General Order includes enforceable requirements for cannabis cultivators in the Central Valley Region whose cultivation activities occupy and/or disturb more than 1000 square feet, to ensure that their operations do not impact water resources. Cannabis cultivators whose cultivation activities occupy and/or disturb less than 1000 square feet, have not been demonstrated to cause more than de minimis impacts to water quality, and are not required to obtain coverage under the General Order. Cannabis cultivators whose cultivation operations are not in compliance with local/county ordinances cannot obtain coverage under the General Order, but should abide by all Discharge Prohibitions and Discharge Specifications, and implement all applicable Best Management Practices outlined in the General Order, to ensure their operations do not impact water resources.

The General Order classifies cannabis cultivation operations into three different Tiers based on threat to water quality, as determined by specific physical characteristics of the operation and its surroundings. The greater the threat to water quality that a cannabis cultivation operation poses, the more that is required of the cultivator for the protection of water quality and to comply with the General Order.

Tier 1 (Low Threat)

is for cannabis cultivators whose cultivation activities are located on slopes less than 30%i, occupy and/or disturb less than ¼ acre, AND are not located within 200 feet of an aquatic life bearing water body.

Tier 2 (Moderate Threat)

is for cannabis cultivators whose cultivation activities are located on slopes less than 30%, occupy and/or disturb less than an acre and no more than 50% of the cultivator's/landowner's parcel(s), AND are not located within 200 feet of an aquatic life bearing water body.

Tier 3 (Elevated Threat)

is for cannabis cultivators whose cultivation activities do not qualify as Tier 1 or Tier 2 operations. Meaning that their cultivation operation is located on slopes greater than 30%, occupies and/or disturbs more than an acre or more than 50% of the cultivator's/landowner's parcel(s), OR is located within 200 feet of an aquatic life bearing water body.

Cannabis cultivators shall implement all applicable Best Management Practices outlined in the Best Management Practices Manual (Attachment A to the General Order), and shall abide by the Discharge Prohibitions and Discharge Specifications applicable to all cannabis cultivators and the Discharge Specifications applicable to the Tier under which they are enrolled.

Third Party Programs

Under the General Order, medicinal cannabis cultivators have the option to enroll, participate, and demonstrate compliance through an approved third party program. Third party groups operate as discharger-funded intermediaries between the Water Boards and the thousands of cannabis cultivators in the Region. At this time the third party program is being developed. You are encouraged to contact Griffin Perea at Griffin.Perea@waterboards.ca.gov if you are interested in forming a third party group, and sign up on our Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program electronic mailing list for updates on third party program development.

Inspections

The General Order requires that enrollees allow Water Board staff and/or California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff reasonable access to their cannabis cultivation operations for the purpose of performing inspections to determine compliance.

Notice of Termination

There are a number of cannabis cultivation sites covered under the Central Valley Water Board's Waste Discharge Requirements General Order for Discharges of Waste Associated with Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation Activities R5-2015-0113 (Order) since its adoption in 2015. The Central Valley Water Board requires a Notice of Termination (NOT) to move forward with site closure in cases where:

  • A cannabis cultivator is ending all operations, or
  • The local jurisdiction has altered or withdrawn their regulations around cannabis cultivation.

FORM CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Completing all fields accurately in this form is an important part of terminating regulatory coverage. Failure to complete the NOT fully and accurately may result in delays processing the termination request.
  • Having your Notice of Applicability (NOA) at hand will help in filling out this form.
  • The Central Valley Water Board may conduct follow-up inspection(s) to verify accurate NOT information AND responsible site closure.
  • Any enrollee who does not obtain termination from coverage is responsible for continuing compliance with the Order requirements, including the submittal of monitoring reports and payment of annual fees.

NOTE:

This form does not need to be completed if a cultivator is simply transferring regulatory coverage under Order R5-2015-0113 to the statewide General Order 2017-0023-DWQ; in this case, simply enrolling in the statewide General Order through the Cannabis Regulatory Program Portal will automatically shift your registration from the Central Valley Water Board's Order to the new statewide General Order.

Further, this form does not need to be completed if you are changing tiers of enrollment within an Order. In that case, please contact appropriate Central Valley Water Board staff with questions.

Former Grow Site - A former cannabis grow site restored following closure.

NOTE:  slope re-contouring and straw wattles to protect against erosion

Change of Information

If an enrollee is needing to update enrollment information please complete the Change of Information Request Form and submit to the Central Valley Water Board. Instructions on filling out the form and submittal are included in the Change of Information Request Form.

iSlope should be determined by measuring between cannabis cultivation areas or associated facilities and nearest surface water body.

Contact Us

Central Valley
Regional Water Quality Control Board
364 Knollcrest Drive, Suite 205
Redding, CA 96002
Phone: (530) 224-4845
Fax: (530) 224-4857