Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program

Cannabis Program Portal Use - Annual Reporting - Notice of Termination Process
Plans/Technical Reports - Annual Invoices - Work in Surface Waters
Inspections - Enforcement - Education and Outreach - Useful Information
FAQs - Contacts

 

Growing cannabis?

Learn about the State Water Resources Control Board Cannabis Cultivation Program

On October 17, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted the Cannabis Cultivation Policy - Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (Cannabis Policy) and the General Waste Discharge Requirements and Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges of Waste Associated with Cannabis Cultivation Activities (Cannabis Cultivation General Order). On February 5, 2019, the State Water Board adopted updates to the Cannabis Policy and Cannabis Cultivation General Order, which remain in effect today.

Statewide Cannabis Cultivation Policy

Statewide Cannabis General Order

Enroll!

Cannabis Program Portal

Already enrolled?

Use the Cannabis Program Portal to submit an Annual Monitoring Report, submit a plan/technical report, or to request termination of coverage. Additional information about the numerous Cannabis Program Portal uses can be found below.
NOTE: To access the Portal use a laptop or desktop computer, and web browsers Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (9.0 or later), or Mozilla Firefox. Using the web browser Safari or accessing the Portal via a mobile phone or tablet may result in technical issues including inability to complete surveys.

Notices of Applicability (NOAs)

After an application and fee are submitted and approved a Notice of Applicability (NOA) is issued and e-mailed to the applicant to confirm enrollment under the Cannabis Cultivation General Order. Issued NOAs are available via CIWQS, see FAQs below for instructions. Cultivators are required to provide the California Department of Cannabis Control with an NOA as proof of enrollment with the Water Boards.

Subscribe to the Cannabis cultivators Email List (Under Water Quality)
https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/swrcb_subscribe.html

Announcements:

Annual Monitoring Reports are due every March 1st, file online here!

Are you ready for Winter? As outlined in the Cannabis Cultivation General Order, winterization procedures must be completed by November 15th of each year. The protocols for winterization monitoring and reporting vary depending on the risk level status of each site. Enrollees should review the Cannabis Cultivation General 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 Monitoring 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

Cannabis Program Portal Uses

The Cannabis Program Portal can be used to submit an application for the Cannabis Cultivation General Order, an annual monitoring report, a plan/technical report, or a termination request form.

Annual Reporting

Annual Monitoring Reports for the previous cultivation year must be completed and submitted by March 1st of the following calendar year. For example, annual reports for the 2021 cultivation year were due by March 1st, 2022. If you have not submitted a previous cultivation year’s annual monitoring report, please submit it as soon as possible.

Annual Monitoring Reports are due for all Tier 1 and Tier 2 sites enrolled under the statewide Cannabis Cultivation General Order, even if the site was enrolled for only a portion of the previous year, and even if cultivation did not occur in that cultivation season. If cultivation did not occur, the Annual Monitoring Report may contain a lot of zeros and/or statements of “Not Applicable”.

Regional Supplemental Report

Investigative Order No. R1-2019-0023 (Regional Supplemental Report) outlines additional annual monitoring and reporting requirements for dischargers in the North Coast Region enrolled under the statewide Cannabis Cultivation General Order. A revised version of the Order was issued by the by the Regional Water Board Executive Officer and is effective as of January 1, 2021. The revised Order includes expanded findings, clarified monitoring and reporting requirements, and it eliminates duplicative water use reporting requirements for Cannabis Cultivation General Order enrollees in the North Coast Region with valid water rights.

To prepare your Annual Monitoring Report and Regional Supplemental Report, please go to the Cannabis Program Portal and complete the survey titled “Online Cannabis Water Quality Monitoring & Reporting Program.” The survey will only ask questions that apply to your site’s enrollment tier, risk level, and region.

NOTE: To access the Portal use a laptop or desktop computer, and web browsers Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (9.0 or later), or Mozilla Firefox. Using the web browser Safari or accessing the Portal via a mobile phone or tablet may result in technical issues including inability to complete surveys.

If you need assistance completing your Annual Monitoring Report, please contact the Cannabis Regulatory Unit at the State Water Board’s Division of Water Quality by email at DWQ.cannabis@waterboards.ca.gov.

If you need assistance completing your Regional Supplemental Report, please contact the Regional Water Board by email at NorthCoast.Cannabis@Waterboards.ca.gov.

Notice of Termination Process

Stopped growing?
To request termination of coverage, go to the Cannabis Program Portal and fill out the Cannabis Order Termination Request Form (TRF) survey and a Final Annual Monitoring Report. Please note an email, phone call, note within your returned invoice or annual monitoring report is not sufficient to terminate the enrollment. A TRF is necessary to start the termination process. Submitting a TRF does not relieve responsibility to pay outstanding invoices or to address outstanding water quality issues on the property.

Plans/Technical Reports

Tier 1 and Tier 2 dischargers are required to submit a Site Management Plan within 90 days of applying for the Cannabis Cultivation General Order. Moderate Risk sites are required to submit a Site Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, and High Risk sites are required to submit a Disturbed Area Stabilization Plan. Tier 2 sites with cultivation areas over 1 acre are required to submit a Nitrogen Management Plan. See Attachment D of the Cannabis General Order for guidance on these plans.
Plans can be emailed to NorthCoast.Cannabis@waterboards.ca.gov or submitted through the Cannabis Program Portal.

Annual Invoices

In January of each year, cannabis cultivators enrolled in the Cannabis Cultivation General Order prior to July 1st of the previous year receive an annual invoice for their enrollment during the Fiscal Year which runs from July 1st – June 30th. The invoice is issued halfway through the Fiscal Year. For questions about your invoice, please contact the Water Boards Fee Branch by phone at (916) 323-0341 or by email at cannabisfees@waterboards.ca.gov

If there is a change of discharger, please contact the Regional Water Board at: NorthCoast.Cannabis@Waterboards.ca.gov.

To look up an invoice please go here: http://infofees.waterboards.ca.gov/FeeInfo/DischargerInvoice.aspx

See payment options here: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/make_a_payment/

NOTE: If you have a Water Quality Certification for work in surface waters you will receive two invoices annually. See more information below.

Work in Surface Waters

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 prior to performing any instream work under the Cannabis Cultivation General Order. The approved Water Quality Certification is in addition to the enrollment in the Cannabis Cultivation General Order for discharges of waste associated with cannabis cultivation.

Apply here:

Application for Water Quality Certification under Order WQ 2019-0001-DWQ

A complete Water Quality Certification application requires an application fee, in addition to the Cannabis Cultivation General Order fee, and an annual reporting fee for the mandatory 5-year monitoring period following the approval of a Water Quality Certification application. The application fee calculator can be found in the Fee Schedule section of the North Coast Regional Water Board’s 401 Certification Program webpage.

Inspections

Regional Water Board staff inspect properties 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 inspections are aimed at verifying tier status, reviewing conformance with standard conditions and best management practices (BMPs), reviewing adequacy and implementation of applicable plans e.g., Site Management Plan, Site Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, and Disturbed Area Stabilization Plan, and reviewing sites that have requested termination. In the event violations are identified, Regional Water Board staff take appropriate enforcement actions.

Regional Water Board staff participate 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 sites that do not have the necessary permits and licenses to legally cultivate cannabis.

Enforcement

It is essential for the Regional Water Board 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 cannabis on private land, whether as an owner, lessee, or operator, then you may be required to enroll in the Cannabis Cultivation General Order. 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, response when violations are identified, 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 2019-0001-DWQ 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.

Priority Watersheds for Cannabis Permitting Outreach and Enforcement
https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cannabis/california_priority_watersheds.html

Complaints

The Regional Water Board takes complaints, conducts complaint inspections whenever feasible, and can conduct follow-up enforcement. Individuals filing a complaint have the option to remain anonymous. To file a complaint, you may do so online at:https://calepacomplaints.secure.force.com/complaints/Complaint

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 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.
  • Being interviewed on public radio and in print media.

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 all inclusive.

Useful Information

Brochures

Links

Other Available Resources

Coordinating Agencies

California Department of Cannabis Control
https://cannabis.ca.gov/
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Cannabis
Humboldt County
https://humboldtgov.org/2676/Cannabis
Trinity County
https://www.trinitycounty.org/Commercial-Cannabis
Sonoma County
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/cannabis-program/
Mendocino County
https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/cannabis-program
Lake County
http://www.lakecountyca.gov/Government/Directory/Community_Development/Cannabis.htm

State Water Resources Control Board Cannabis Programs

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) has developed and is 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.
On October 17, 2017, the State Water Board adopted the Cannabis Cultivation Policy - Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (Cannabis Policy) and the General Waste Discharge Requirements and Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges of Waste Associated with Cannabis Cultivation Activities (Cannabis Cultivation General Order). On February 5, 2019, the State Water Board adopted updates to the Cannabis Policy and Cannabis Cultivation General Order, which remain in effect today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I find my HUC12?
A: You can find your HUC12 by using the HUC-12 sub-watershed online interactive map via EcoAtlas http://www.ecoatlas.org/regions/ecoregion/klamath-north-coast (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 sub-watershed)

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”: https://ciwqs.waterboards.ca.gov/ciwqs/readOnly/CiwqsReportServlet?reportName=facilityAtAGlance&inCommand=reset

Q. How do I find my NOA?
A: Follow the steps listed below:

  • Navigate to CIWQS Facility At A Glance Criteria https://ciwqs.waterboards.ca.gov/ciwqs/readOnly/CiwqsReportServlet?reportName=facilityAtAGlance&inCommand=reset
  • Type in the facility name
  • Click Run Report
  • Click on the blue hyperlink number under Place ID for the appropriate facility
  • Click on the blue hyperlink “2019-0001-DWQ” under Regulatory Measures
    • If Regulatory Measures aren’t visible click the + sign above Total Reg Measures to display the Regulatory Measures
    • If Order No. “2019-0001-DWQ” is not a hyperlink (blue and underlined) the NOA has not been issued yet and the application is still under review
  • Click the blue hyperlink under Attachment to download the NOA

Q. How do I report changes to my tier, risk level, cultivation area, or disturbed area?
A. Report changes to tier, risk level, cultivation area, and disturbed area through the annual report survey located in the Cannabis Program Portal.

To see more FAQs please visit the State Water Board website at: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cannabis/faqs.html

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: northcoast.cannabis@waterboards.ca.gov
(707) 576-2676

For questions about the State Water Board program please contact:

General Order-DWQ.Cannabis@waterboards.ca.gov or 916-341-5580

Cannabis Policy-CannabisWR@waterboards.ca.gov

Small Irrigation Use Registration-CannabisReg@waterboards.ca.gov or 916-319-9427