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Fully Contained Springs Exemption Process

This page provides information regarding the Fully Contained Springs Exemption outlined in the Cannabis Cultivation Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (Cannabis Cultivation Policy). The Cannabis Cultivation Policy allows cannabis cultivators to request an exemption from certain flow requirements if the spring used for cannabis cultivation activities meets the specific requirements outlined in the Cannabis Cultivation Policy.

Fully Contained Springs

Fully contained springs do not flow off a person’s property in the absence of diversion, including wet years, or after periods of heavy rain. The Cannabis Cultivation Policy allows cultivators to request an exemption from certain flow requirements if the spring being used for cannabis cultivation meets a set of pre-determined conditions. The full text of the requirements is available here.

The determination of whether a spring is fully contained, and whether a cultivator may be exempt from certain flow conditions, is the responsibility of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). The information below describes: 1) the process to apply for a fully contained spring exemption; and 2) the information that is to be submitted in support of the exemption.

Requesting a Fully Contained Spring Exemption

All requests for fully contained spring exemptions must be submitted through the State Water Board’s online Cannabis Cultivation Program Application Portal (Portal). If you compile the necessary information to support a fully contained spring exemption in advance of when the Portal can accept submittals, you may submit your Cannabis SIUR application through the Portal and work with Cannabis Registration Unit staff to email in your fully contained springs exemption request, including supporting evidence.

Cannabis cultivators requesting an exemption must obtain a Cannabis Small Irrigation and Use Registration (Cannabis SIUR), and include supporting evidence regarding the fully contained spring. The supporting evidence must be prepared by a Qualified Professional and include, at a minimum, the information listed here.

Submittal of Exempt Springs Request through Portal.

  • The Portal will guide you through questions related to your cultivation site and source(s) of water. You will need to complete all questions related to your water source(s), complete the Cannabis SIUR, and submit your fully contained spring report (report) in the Portal.
  • After you complete your Cannabis SIUR and submit the report, the State Water Board will email you a Notice of Receipt for the Cannabis SIUR. The Cannabis SIUR Notice of Receipt will include confirmation that the State Water Board has received your fully contained spring exemption request and provide information on how to submit fee payments. (Note you will obtain a separate Notice of Receipt for coverage under the Cannabis General Order.)
  • Once you have received the Cannabis SIUR, you may divert from the spring. The diversion must comply with the Cannabis Cultivation Policy – click here to see specific requirements for diversions from fully contained springs.
  • You may submit the Cannabis SIUR with your California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis License Application as verification of your water source(s) and fully contained spring claim.

The Portal is available at:

Note: The Portal provides cultivators with a one-stop permitting shop, where cultivators use the same Portal to obtain: (1) coverage under the Cannabis General Order (waste discharge requirements/waiver); and (2) a Cannabis SIUR (water right).

Approval or Denial of Fully Contained Spring Requests. State Water Board staff may request additional information or conduct a site visit to assess the request. Following review of the report and any additional information, the State Water Board Deputy Director of Water Rights (Deputy Director) will approve or deny the fully contained spring exemption request. The State Water Board will notify the cannabis cultivator of the approval or denial of the request.

  • If approved, the cannabis cultivator is still subject to all applicable requirements of the Cannabis Cultivation Policy. Cannabis cultivators with an approved fully contained spring exemption must revoke their Cannabis SIUR in order to avoid future annual fees.
  • The Deputy Director may choose to conditionally approve the request, granting a temporary exemption until staff is able to conduct a site inspection and/or evaluate the spring’s condition during wet years.
  • If the fully contained spring request is denied, the cannabis cultivator will be issued a Cannabis SIUR with a water right priority date of the initial fully contained springs submittal.
  • Cannabis cultivators that submit false or misrepresentative information and cultivators that do not pay the required fee may be subject to enforcement.

Qualified Professionals*

  • California-Licensed Professional Geologists (including Certified Hydrogeologists and Certified Engineering Geologists)
  • California-Licensed Geotechnical Engineer
  • American Institute of Hydrology: Professional Hydrologist (Surface Water); or Professional Hydrologist (Groundwater)

*If an individual does not meet these qualified professional classifications, but believes they have a combination of education and experience equivalent to the approved qualified professional classifications, the individual must provide evidence that they are qualified to make a fully contained spring determination and submit their resume and supporting information for Deputy Director review and approval. The resume and supporting information should focus on education and work experience that qualifies the individual to properly gather the required information and make a professional determination to support a fully contained springs exemption request.

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Questions regarding the fully contained spring exemption requests can be directed to Cannabis Registration staff at: