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.

Enrollment

To obtain coverage for a medicinal cannabis cultivation operation under the General Order, a cultivator must:

STEP 1  Download Notice of Intent to Obtain Coverage (NOI)


STEP 2  Complete NOI and make check payable to:"State Water Resources Control Board"


Fill out and submit a Notice of Intent to Obtain Coverage (NOI) and pay the annual fee for the Tier under which their operation falls (see the Annual Fee Schedule below). The NOI requires cannabis cultivators seeking coverage for a new, recently expanded, or expanding operation to conduct an Environmental Compliance Assessment. Cultivators may have to submit additional documentation with their NOI as a result of the Environmental Compliance Assessment. Cannabis cultivators, whose cultivation operations DO NOT fall under Tiers 1 or 2, must develop and submit for approval a Site Management Plan describing practices that will be implemented to minimize impacts to water resources. Site Management Plan requirements are detailed in the General Order and on the last page of the NOI.


STEP 3  Submit NOI and Annual Fee Payment


All cash payments must be submitted directly to the State Water Resources Control Board, NOT the Regional Water Board. The State Water Board prefers that payments be made by check or money order. Money orders are available in large denominations (up to $1,000) at many retail outlets and post offices across California, and, if used, will expedite the enrollment process. The State Water Board may be able to accept cash payments at its downtown Sacramento location. Cash payments, however, will require additional time and an appointment with the State Water Board's Sacramento office. A delay in enrollment due to the need for a cash payment is not an excuse for non-compliance with applicable enrollment requirements.

  • For an appointment, please call: (916) 341-5021

  • If you are sending a cash payment it must be sent to:
    State Water Resources Control Board
    P.O. Box 1888
    Sacramento, CA 95812-1888

STEP 4  After NOI is approved, a NOI is mailed to the Cultivator/Enrollee.

Annual Fee Schedule for Marijuana Cultivation

Tier 1
(Low Threat)
$1000
Tier 2
(Moderate Threat)
$2500
Tier 3
(Elevated Threat)
$10,000

The above Annual Fee Schedule for Marijuana Cultivation can be found within the FY 2015-16 Fee Schedule - California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 23, Division 3, Chapter 9. Waste Discharge Reports and Requirements, Article 1. Fees (the link will take you to State Water Resources Control Board's Water Quality Fees web page).

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

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