Central Valley Water Board Fines Shasta County Unpermitted Cannabis Grow Site Property Owners

By on February 23, 2019

Shasta County property owners Kongkeo Khamvongsa and Alexandra Kensavath have been fined $150,000 by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) for their failure to clean up a cannabis grow site on their property. The action stems from a cleanup and abatement order issued to them in June 2016.

The board found at a Feb. 8 hearing that Khamvongsa and Kensavath failed to restore and monitor their property after board inspectors found evidence of water quality problems related to the unpermitted development of the property for cannabis cultivation, including grading of 2.6 acres and construction of an earthen dam. These activities were followed by the discharge and potential discharge of waste from the site into several streams on the property; these streams are tributaries to Fidler Creek and North Fork Cottonwood Creek. Both creeks are salmon habitats in western Shasta County near the unincorporated community of Ono.

“State and Regional Water Board staff and legal counsel, in conjunction with their colleagues at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, have gone to great lengths to hold Mr. Khamvongsa and Ms. Kensavath accountable for their actions,” said Clint Snyder, assistant executive officer for the CVRWQCB.

The regional board is authorized by the California Water Code to issue cleanup and abatement orders to any person causing or threatening to cause impacts to waters of the state. The state’s water code includes citing the owner(s) of the land where such harmful discharges or threatened discharged occurred. Khamvongsa of Wisconsin and Kensavath of Fresno are still legally required to clean up the property in addition to the fines levied by the CVRWQCB.

Whereas the Central Valley Water Board is a California state agency responsible for the preservation and enhancement of the quality of California’s water resources, the investigation and enforcement actions addressing an array of adverse environmental impacts caused by cannabis cultivation are the result of a multiagency program. This program m includes staff from the State Water Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For additional information about the Central Valley Water Board’s enforcement actions, go to: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/water_issues/enforcement/.