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State Board - Cannabis Cultivation Water Quality

Overview

On October 17, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted the Cannabis Cultivation Policy- Principles and Guideline 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 General Order). On December 18, 2017, the state’s Office of Administrative Law approved the Cannabis Policy, making the Cannabis Policy and Cannabis General Order effective as of that date.

The Cannabis Policy will be implemented through the Small Irrigation Use Registration (SIUR) Program and the Cannabis General Order. Compliance with the Cannabis Policy is required to obtain a license from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) under its CalCannabis Licensing Program.

Cannabis General Order

The Cannabis General Order implements the Cannabis Policy requirements; specifically, those requirements that address waste discharges associated with cannabis cultivation activities.

All cannabis cultivators not currently enrolled under the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Order No. R1-2015-0023 (North Coast Order) or the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board Order No. R5-2015-0113 (Central Valley Order) are required to apply for coverage under the Cannabis General Order. See “Existing Cannabis Cultivation Orders” below for additional information.

Once an online application is submitted and the applicable fee is paid, a Notice of Applicability (NOA) will be issued to the enrollee by the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board

The State Water Board resolution and adopted documents are provided below:

Application Portal and Fee Schedule

Visit the Cannabis Regulatory Programs Portal to enroll for coverage under the Cannabis General Order or to file for a cannabis SIUR water right.

For more information, see the Online Portal Fact Sheet.

2017-2018 Cannabis Fee Schedule

The Fee Schedule table for cannabis cultivators covered under the Cannabis General Order is posted below. To determine the correct fee amount, refer to the Tier and Risk Designation listed on the Notice of Receipt (NOR) emailed to the enrollee upon submission of the application.

To read the table below, first locate the appropriate Tier, then find the appropriate Risk Designation and the associated fee. The fee associated with the Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements is listed at the bottom of the table.

Risk Designation Annual Fee
Tier 1 Low Risk
Moderate Risk
High Risk

$600
$1,800
$4,800

Tier 2 Low Risk
Moderate Risk
High Risk
$1,000
$3,000
$8,000
Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements $600

Cannabis cultivators currently enrolled under the North Coast Order or the Central Valley Order will continue to receive an invoice on an annual basis. The invoice includes instructions on how to pay the appropriate fee under the applicable existing order. Click here to view the current fee schedule for existing enrollees. See “Existing Cannabis Cultivation Orders” below for additional information.

Existing Cannabis Cultivation Orders

On August 13, 2015, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted the Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements and General Water Quality Certification for Discharges of Waste Resulting from Cannabis Cultivation and Associated Activities or Operations with Similar Environmental Effects in the North Coast Region Order No. R1-2015-0023 (North Coast Order).

On October 2, 2015, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted the General Waste Discharge Requirements Order for Discharges of Waste Associated with Medical Cannabis Cultivation Activities Order No. R5-2015-0113 (Central Valley Order).

No new applications will be accepted under the North Coast Order or the Central Valley Order. Cannabis cultivators currently enrolled under the North Coast Order or the Central Valley Order may continue to operate under and comply with the requirements of their respective order until they enroll in the Cannabis General Order. All enrollees under the North Coast Order and Central Valley Order must transition the Cannabis General Order by July 1, 2019.

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program website can be viewed at: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/water_issues/programs/cannabis/

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharges Regulatory Program website can be viewed at: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/water_issues/cannabis/