Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program

Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements -  Third Party Programs -  Inspections  
  Enforcement -  Education and Outreach -  Useful Information -  Contact

Important Updates & Annoucements

Requirement to Transition or Terminate Permit Coverage under the Regional Cannabis Order
This is a reminder that by July 1, 2019, all enrollees under the Regional Cannabis Order must either apply to transition their permit coverage to the Statewide Cannabis Order or request termination of coverage under the Regional Cannabis Order. Additional information about transitioning and terminating coverage can be found below and in this informational flyer.

Terminating Coverage under the Regional Cannabis Order
If you would like to terminate your coverage under Regional Cannabis Order No. R1-2015-0023, please complete and submit this Request for Termination form (instructions are provided within the form) by July 1, 2019.

If you need assistance completing or submitting your form, please contact our Cannabis Cultivation Regulatory Program staff by phone at: (707) 576-2676 or by email at

Transitioning Coverage from under the Regional Cannabis Order to the Statewide Cannabis Order
If you would like to transition your coverage under Regional Cannabis Order No. R1-2015-0023 to the Statewide Cannabis Order WQ 2017-0023-DWQ, you must apply to do so by July 1, 2019 via the Water Boards Cannabis Cultivation Programs Portal.

Additional information about the Statewide Cannabis Order can be found on the State Water Resource Control Board website.

NOTE: Portal users may experience problems if attempting to use the web browser Safari.

Annual Reporting in 2019
All Annual Reports in 2019 (for calendar/cultivation year 2018) must be completed and submitted via the Water Boards Cannabis Cultivation Programs Portal

Annual Reports for enrollees under Regional Cannabis Order No. R1-2015-0023 are due March 31, 2019, while Annual Reports for enrollees under the Statewide Cannabis Order WQ 2017-0023-DWQ are due March 1, 2019. Further information on the reporting processes for both the Regional Cannabis Order and Statewide Cannabis Order can be found in this Annual Reporting Requirements informational flyer.

If you need assistance completing your Annual Report, please contact our Cannabis Cultivation Regulatory Program staff by phone at: (707) 576-2676 or by email at

Note: Portal users may experience problems if attempting to use the web browser Safari

2018/2019 Fiscal Year Invoices for Enrollment
In January 2019, enrollees in either the Regional Cannabis Order or the Statewide Cannabis General Order that were enrolled prior to July 1, 2018, will be receiving an invoice for their enrollment during the 2018/2019 Fiscal Year. Click Here for an informational document with region-specific contact numbers and email addresses. Additional information can be found on theWater Boards Fee Branch website.


Planning the replacement, installation, maintenance, or removal of a stream crossing, pond, or point of diversion? How about restoration of a stream, pond, or wetland? An approved Water Quality Certification is required in addition to general enrollment prior to performing any instream work under the Statewide Cannabis Order WQ 2017-0023-DWQ.

Application for Water Quality Certification under the Statewide Cannabis Order WQ 2017-0023-DWQ

Priority Watersheds for Cannabis Permitting and Enforcement

Updates for enrollees under Order R1-2015-0023

Growing cannabis?Growing cannabis? There is a new State Water Resources Control Board Cannabis Cultivation Program.
Enroll Online Here

Cultivators are required to enroll in the State Water Board’s cannabis cultivation regulatory program if growing more than 6 mature plants for personal use, or over 1000 square feet of combined cannabis and disturbed area, subject to additional conditions . With the adoption of these statewide cannabis regulations on October 17, 2017, the North Coast Regional Water Board will no longer be accepting new applications or enrollments under Order R1-2015-0023. Cannabis cultivators currently enrolled under Order R1-2015-0023 may continue to operate under and comply with the requirements of Order No. R1-2015-0023, but will need to transfer their enrollment to the State Water Board’s cannabis cultivation regulatory program by no later than July 1, 2019. For questions about the State Water Board program please contact:

General Order - or 916-341-5580

Cannabis Policy -

Small Irrigation Use Registration - or 916-319-9427


  • State Water Resource Control Board Adopts Environmental Standards for Cannabis Cultivation - The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is no longer accepting enrollments under Order No. R1-2015-0023 because on October 17, 2017, the State Water Board adopted the General Waste Discharge Requirements and Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges of Waste Associated with Cannabis Cultivation Activities, aka the Cannabis General Order, and the Cannabis Cultivation Policy: Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation.

Statewide Cannabis General Order

Statewide Cannabis Cultivation Policy

  • Are you ready for Winter? As outlined in the Statewide Cannabis General Order, winterization procedures must be completed by November 15. The protocols for winterization monitoring and reporting vary depending on the risk level status of each site. Enrollees should review the Order for this information to ensure that appropriate winterization procedures are implemented in a timely manner and that necessary information is recorded for inclusion in the Annual Report (due each year on March 1st). Below is a two-page handout containing a summary of winterization monitoring and reporting protocols.

Winterization Protocols for Statewide Cannabis Order

Subscribe to the Cannabis cultivators Email List (Under Water Quality)

Coordinating Agencies

California Department of Food and Agriculture, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing

Bureau of Cannabis Control

California Department of Public Health, Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Department of Pesticide Regulation

Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements

Order No. R1-2015-0023 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 herbicides and proper handling and disposal of solid and domestic wastes.

This Order does not in any way authorize, endorse, sanction, permit or approve the cultivation, possession, use, sale or other activities associated with cannabis. Individuals engaging in cannabis cultivation and other activities risk prosecution under federal, state, or local law.


Order Summary

The Order includes enforceable requirements which cultivators need to become familiar with to ensure their operations do not impact water resources. Below is a brief summary of primary elements of the Order and are also summarized in
Fact Sheet: North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program

  1. A tiered enrollment structure relative to the potential threat to water quality.
    1. Tier 1 is a low-threat tier based on compliance with standard conditions and site characteristics (less than 5000 ft2 of total cultivated area, no cultivation on slopes greater than 35%, no cultivation areas or associated facilities are located within 200 feet of a surface water (i.e., wetland, Class I, II, or III streams), and no surface water diversion from May 15 - October 31.  The annual fee is $1000.
    2. Tier 2 is a management tier for operations that do not meet the standard conditions or otherwise do not qualify for Tier 1.  Within 180 days of enrollment, Tier 2 enrollees shall develop and implement a site-specific water resource protection plan that includes management measures to be implemented to meet the standard conditions.  The annual fee is $2500. Please see the general template for a water resource protection plan.
    3. Tier 2* is a tier for operations with less than 10,000 ft2 of total cultivated area, where enrollees have fully implemented a water resource protection plan, meet the standard conditions, and are determined by RWB staff or an approved third party to pose a low threat to water quality.  The annual fee is $1000.
    4. Tier 3 is a cleanup tier, which requires the development and implementation of a cleanup and restoration plan.  A Tier 3 enrollee has 45 days to develop and submit a cleanup and restoration plan for RWB approval.  Tier 3 is not eligible for enrollment via a third party program. Tier 3 Dischargers who are cultivating cannabis concurrent with or following site cleanup activities must also enroll in and conform with Tier 2 requirements.  The annual fee is $10,000.
  1. Standard conditions to protect water quality in conjunction with a Best Management Practice (BMP) Appendix provide a framework for cultivators to assess their sites for appropriate tiers and determine what management measures are necessary to protect water quality. All BMPs in Appendix B are considered enforceable conditions under the Order as applicable to a given site. The Order includes standard conditions regarding:
  1. Site maintenance, erosion control and drainage features
  2. Stream crossing maintenance and improvement
  3. Stream and wetland buffers
  4. Spoils management
  5. Water storage and use
  6. Irrigation runoff
  7. Fertilizers and soil amendments
  8. Pesticides
  9. Petroleum products and other chemicals
  10. Cultivation-related wastes
  11. Refuse and human waste, and
  12. Remediation, cleanup, and restoration activities
  1. Associated procedural forms including a notice of intent of enrollment, a monitoring and reporting form, and a checklist for remediation and restoration work in streams or wetlands.
  2. General Prohibitions including discharges or threatened discharges to surface waters.
  3. A framework for non-governmental third party programs to assist cultivators with enrollment, compliance activities, and monitoring and reporting.
  4. A framework for development and implementation of water resource protection and cleanup and restoration plans.


The Water Boards have provided translated materials in Spanish, Hmong, and Bulgarian.  Below are links to the following translated materials: Fact Sheet North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program; Order Appendix A: Notice of Intent; Order Appendix C: Monitoring and Reporting Program; and the current enrollment Fee Structure.




Third Party Programs

Regional Water Board approved third party programs will be listed here:

Approved Third Party Programs:

Village Ecosystems:

Natural Resources Management Corporation:

Jacobszoon and Associates:

Pacific Watershed Associates,

Timberland Resource Consultants,

Tier 1 and 2 dischargers have the option to enroll, participate, and comply with Order No.R1-2015-0023 through an approved, third party program. In contrast to a consultant, the intent for third party programs is to address the privacy concerns of individual dischargers, provide efficient administration of and verification of conformance with the Order, provide technical assistance, while also providing an added level of privacy for dischargers.

Staff are currently reviewing applications for third party program approvals. Please check back on this web page throughout the remainder of 2015, or sign up on our Cannabis Discharge Regulatory Program email listserv for updates on third party program development.

For organizations or individuals interested in proposing a third party program for consideration by the Regional Water Board, please review the following documents.


The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's role in the inspections is to evaluate compliance with the Basin Plan, the California Water Code, and the Clean Water Act. Regional Water Board staff inspections are focused on compliance assistance and enforcement. Compliance assistance generally is aimed at ensuring those that are required to enroll in the Order do so, verifying tier status, review of conformance with standard conditions and BMPs, and review of adequacy and implementation of applicable water resource protections plans, including treatment schedules. In the event of violations identified, the Regional Water Board undertakes appropriate enforcement actions.

Staff is offering compliance inspections. These inspections offer education about the Order and compliance assistance to landowners already enrolled or anticipating enrollment under the Order. To request an inspection, please contact one of our staff people listed at the bottom of the page.

The North Coast region participates in ongoing interagency inspections in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Office of Enforcement, State Water Board Division of Water Rights, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The inspections are generally prioritized to focus on subwatershed areas where there are identified cumulative effects and a concentration of probable operations conducting cannabis cultivation and associated activities.


It is essential for the North Coast Region to enforce water quality laws, the Basin Plan, requirements, permits, and orders so as to attain healthy watersheds, effective regulation, and strong partnerships. Consistent and effective enforcement, which includes compliance assistance, is necessary to deter practices that could lead to violations; to promote justice; to reduce the incentive for an unfair economic advantage of noncompliance; to safeguard the public trust; and to protect and restore beneficial uses of water.

If you are engaged in cultivating marijuana on private land, whether as owner, lessee, or operator, enrolling in the Regional Water Board's Order and being able to demonstrate a valid water right to the Division of Water Rights may be required. If you do not obtain the appropriate permits, you may be subject to administrative and/or judicial civil enforcement. If you cause, or threaten to cause, harm to water quality, you may face civil liabilities and be required to clean up the property at your own expense. The unauthorized diversion or storage of water is subject to further and separate civil liabilities and compliance orders by the Division of Water Rights.

Consistent with the enforcement policy, the Water Boards use a progressive enforcement approach that utilizes limited enforcement resources efficiently and effectively. Progressive enforcement is a general concept whereby enforcement actions can range from informal actions to very formal, depending on the extent of violations, history of non-compliance and other factors. An informal enforcement action can be a simple verbal contact by staff that brings a violation to a landowners' attention and provides the opportunity for compliance. If the landowner's response is unsatisfactory, staff may escalate their enforcement. Based on the landowner's first response, staff may opt to take no action, follow up with site visit(s) to confirm compliance and/or provide technical assistance, or continue with more enforcement. For serious violations, staff may send a Notice of Violation and request a written response.

At this stage, a case may be evaluated for Administrative Civil Liability (i.e., financial penalties) or other formal enforcement measure. Formal enforcement actions are generally reserved for the most egregious of violations. Formal enforcement actions could include Notice to Comply (for example with Order R1-2015-0023 requirements); required submission of technical reports; issuance of Cleanup and Abatement Orders if you cause, or threaten to cause, harm to water quality; Time Schedule Orders; Cease and Desist Orders; Modification or rescission of the Order requirements; and Administrative Civil Liabilities.


The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board takes complaints, conducts complaint inspections, and can conduct follow-up enforcement. Individuals filing a complaint have the option to remain anonymous. To file a complaint, you may do so on line at:

or contact Regional Water Board staff Stormer Feiler at (707) 543-7128 and

State Water Resources Control Board Cannabis Programs

The State Water Board is developing and implementing new regulatory programs to address potential water quality and quantity issues related to cannabis cultivation and to meet the directives of Senate Bill (SB) 837 (Statutes 2016, Chapter 32, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) and the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. 

Education and Outreach

Education and Outreach are critical components to water quality protection efforts in the North Coast.

Regional Water Board Education and Outreach

The Regional Water Board's recent outreach and education efforts include:

  • Distributing brochures to individuals, supply stores, partner agencies, and interested third party entities with general information including Water Board staff contact information and the need for a permit, the potential for water quality impacts from cannabis cultivation and related activities, and enforcement in relation to discharges of waste and improper water diversions.
  • Attending and speaking at public outreach events relating to cannabis cultivation discharges;
  • Providing general information via presentations and informational meetings to specific interest groups, including environmental groups, governments, grower associations and third party entities; and
  • Being interviewed on public radio and in print media.

Staff will continue to conduct various public meetings and events to provide education and outreach to support the cannabis waste discharge regulatory program. If you would like to invite the North Coast Regional Water Board staff to attend and/or present at an event, please contact Connor McIntee (707) 576-2499,

Non-Profit Education and Outreach

The following non-profit entities* provide resources, education and outreach in the North Coast region for various land management practices relevant to cannabis cultivation operations or other operations with similar environmental effects:

*The above list is by no means exhaustive or inclusive. Please check back on this web page throughout 2015 and 2016 for updates.

Useful Information



Other Available Resources

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:

Q: What is my site WDID?
A: This is a number that we will assign to you upon receipt of your application, so upon initial enrollment, you can leave this blank. A WDID number does not necessarily reflect a complete enrollment.

Q: How do I find my HUC12?
A: You can find your HUC12 by using the HUC-12 subwatershed online interactive map via EcoAtlas (Go to "Overlays" tab to select "Hydrologic Regions (HUC12)," go to the "Basemap" tab to select the desired basemap, and zoom to your site to identify the 12-digit HUC code for your subwatershed)

Q: How can I verify if my enrollment is complete?
A: You can check the Facilities-At-A-Glance Report to see if your enrollment is “active”:

Water Board Contacts

Please subscribe to the email listserv to stay informed on the latest North Coast Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program developments:

If you have questions about the Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program, please contact :
(707) 576-2676