Drought Restrictions for California Pot Growers
Drought Restrictions for California Pot Growers

NorCal water board adopts first rules for pot growers

Last week, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted the state’s first water quality order to help protect the environment from waste associated with the cultivation of cannabis.

“The adoption of this order is intended to address the harmful impacts and threat of devastation that unregulated cannabis cultivation can have on our fragile North Coast ecosystems,” Matt Salmon, executive director of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board said in a statement.

Beginning in February 2016, pot growers with a site of at least 2,000 square feet must register with the water board. There will be three tiers of classification, depending on the site’s conditions and threat to water quality.

  • Tier 1 – low threat to water safety. The grower has complied with standards released by the board.
  • Tier 2 – needs some management. The grower must develop a plan that demonstrates how water will be protected. The plan must comply with the board’s said guidelines.
  • Tier 3 – needs a cleanup plan. The grower is required to develop and implement a cleanup and restoration plan.

The order takes into account site maintenance, erosion control and drainage features, stream crossing maintenance and improvement, stream and wetland buffers, spoils management, water storage and use, irrigation runoff, fertilizers and soil amendments, pesticides, petroleum products and other chemicals, cultivation-related wastes, refuse and human waste, remediation, cleanup and restoration activities.

Although this order would require all growers to register, board officials are adamant that all state and federal laws must be followed.

While the fees have yet to be set, the State Water Resources Board’s fee branch has suggested the following annual fees: $500 for sites less than a quarter-acre, $2,500 for sites ranging from quarter-acre to 5 acres and $10,000 for sites of more than 5 acres.

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