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Cannabis Cultivation Program



The Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program addresses water quality impacts from cannabis cultivation and associated activities on private property throughout the Lahontan Region and the Colorado River Basin in Eastern California.  The Program focuses on Compliance Assurance/Compliance Assistance, and Education and Outreach.

In 2019, the State Water Board adopted revised requirements for cannabis cultivation to reduce impacts from discharges of waste and water diversions associated with cannabis cultivation activities. Cannabis cultivation can cause significant environmental damage, including discharges of polluted wastes to surface water and groundwater, erosion and sedimentation of surface water bodies, and illegal diversions of surface water.

The program is designed to meet the requirements of the Lahontan Basin Plan and the Colorado River Basin Plan, the California Water Code, and the Clean Water Act. The Water Boards are the principal state agencies with primary responsibility for the coordination and control of water quality. Cannabis cultivation can contribute to nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, which is the leading cause of water quality degradation throughout California. Many streams in the Lahontan Region and the Colorado River Basin Region are impacted by excess sediment, nutrients and elevated temperatures; and illegal surface water diversions intensify these water quality impacts.

Apply for Permit

Notice of Applicability (NOA)– Cultivators are required to provide the California Department of Food and Agriculture CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing division with an NOA as proof of enrollment with the Water Board. Use button above to apply for a Notice of Applicability (NOA)

General Order Overview

The Cannabis General Order implements the Cannabis Policy requirements and provides a mechanism for water quality compliance. All cannabis cultivators (indoor and outdoor) are required to apply for coverage under the Cannabis General Order.

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

Questions regarding General Order: or 916-341-5580
Questions regarding the Cannabis Cultivation Policy:

Cultivation Categories

The Cannabis General Order provides a statewide tiered approach for permitting discharges and threatened discharges of waste from cannabis cultivation and associated activities, establishes a personal use exemption standard, and provides conditional exemption criteria for low threat to water quality activities. Tiers are defined by the amount of disturbed area.

General Order Permit Coverage

Disturbed Area
Permit Coverage Status
Personal Use Exemption
< 1000 ft2
Conditional Exemption (outdoor)
< 2000ft2
Conditionally Waived,
must also comply with
Cannabis Policy
Conditional Exemption (indoor)
Not Applicable
Conditionally Waived,
must also comply with
Cannabis Policy
Tier 1 (outdoor)
≥ 2000ft2and < 1 acre
Tier 2 (outdoor)
≥ 1 acre

Tier 1 and Tier 2 enrollees under the Cannabis General Order must characterize the risk designation based on the slope of disturbed areas and the proximity to a water body

Risk Categories for Tier 1 and Tier 2

Low Risk

Moderate Risk

High Risk

  • No portion of the disturbed area is located on a slope greater than 30 percent, and
  • All of the disturbed area complies with the riparian setback Requirements.
  • Any portion of the disturbed area is located on a slope greater than 30 percent and less than 50 percent, and
  • All of the disturbed area complies with the riparian setback Requirements.
  • Any portion of the disturbed area is located within the riparian setback Requirements.

The Cannabis Policy Attachment A, Definitions and Requirements for Cannabis Cultivation, contains surface water diversion and waste discharge requirements for cannabis cultivation related activities. Cultivators and associated property owners shall comply with all requirements in the Cannabis Policy and applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and permitting requirements.

Technical Reporting

Annual Reporting in 2020

All Annual Reports in 2020 (for previous calendar/cultivation year 2019) must be completed and submitted via the Water Boards Cannabis Cultivation Programs Portal

Refer to Attachment D of the Cannabis General Order for Technical Report Guidance

Annual Report Tier 1, Tier 2
Site Management Plan Tier 1, Tier 2
Site Erosion and Sediment Control Plan Tier 1 (Moderate Risk), Tier 2 (Moderate Risk)
Disturbed Area Stabilization Plan Tier 1 (High Risk), Tier 2 (High Risk)
Nitrogen Management Plan Tier 2
Site Closure Report Conditionally Exempt, Tier 1, Tier 2

Small Industrial Wastewater Treatment Systems General Order (Small Industrial Order)

The Lahontan Water Board’s Small Industrial Order regulates industrial wastewater discharges of a monthly average flow rate of 100,000 or less gallons per day. The Small Industrial Order covers facilities discharging through an infiltrative method or treating wastewater through an evaporative method.

Contact Us

Mailing and telephone information for Lahontan Region & Colorado River Region Cannabis Programs:
2501 Lake Tahoe Boulevard
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone: (530) 542-5400
Fax:  (530) 544-2271

Email Addresses:
Lahontan Region Cannabis Program:
Colorado River Region Cannabis Program:

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