NCRWQCB finally moves on widespread violations in Trinity Pines

More than 750 of these letters have been sent to the property owners of the Trinity Pines subdivision in southern Trinity County


January 27, 2017


xxxxxxxxx ca, 955xx


Dear XX:


 This Letter Contains Legal Directives That Must Be Followed

Please Read This Letter Carefully

 Failure To Respond May Result In Fines

 You are receiving this letter because, based on information currently available to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, North Coast Region (“North Coast Regional Water Board or Regional Water Board”), you own a parcel in Trinity County that is identified below and subject to Order No. 2015-0023 Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges of Waste Resulting from Cannabis Cultivation and Associated Activities or Operations with Similar Environmental Effects in the North Coast Region (“Order”).  Please read this letter carefully and respond within 35 calendar days from the date of this letter.   Failure to respond could subject you to Administrative Civil Liability for up to $1,000 per day for each day the response is late.

The Order, adopted on August 13, 2015, regulates the discharge of waste associated with the cultivation of cannabis and/or other operations with similar environmental effects on private lands in the North Coast Region.  The Order applies to all private properties in the North Coast Region upon which cannabis is being cultivated and requires that, as of February 15, 2016, any parcel with a cumulative area of cannabis cultivation that comprises an area of 2,000 square feet or more must enroll for coverage under and comply with the requirements of the Order to avoid the need to file a report of waste discharge and obtain individual waste discharge requirements.  Non-cannabis operations with similar environmental effects[1] and sites with less than 2,000 square feet of cannabis where there is a threat to water quality are also subject to the requirements of the Order.  Operations with less than 2,000 square feet of cannabis where there is no threat to water quality are not subject to the requirements of the Order.

Based on review of available information, including available aerial imagery, it appears that that cannabis cultivation (or operations with similar environmental effects) may have been or may be occurring on your parcel(s) listed below and may be subject to the Order:




If you and/or a tenant(s), lessee(s), or other occupant(s) of the parcel cumulatively cultivate 2,000 square feet or more of cannabis, then the parcel must be enrolled for coverage under and comply with the Order.  The Order addresses the discharge of waste from parcels developed and/or used for the cultivation of cannabis and associated activities, or operations with similar environmental effects, and is intended to protect both groundwater and surface water.  Wastes discharged from lands where cultivation and associated activities occur or have occurred may include sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, petroleum products and other chemicals, cultivation-related waste, refuse, and human waste.  Parcels developed and/or used for cannabis cultivation or operations with similar environmental effects may include graded areas, exposed and erodible soils, unpaved roads and driveways, stream crossings, and legacy sources of sediment discharges to surface waters.  Sediment entering or deliverable to watercourses from human-caused sources is considered a discharge of waste and is among the primary pollutants impacting the health of north coast streams.  The Order requires, in part, that owners/operators of parcels subject to the Order take steps to control sources of sediment discharge on their properties.
Legal Authority and Grounds for Issuing the Directive Order


Increased cultivation throughout the North Coast Region has resulted in significant waste discharges and a loss of instream flows as a result of the improper development of rural landscapes and the diversion of springs and streams.  These activities have the potential to result in impacts to water resources, including discharges of waste to receiving waters and the cumulative detriment of beneficial uses of water that depend on surface water, water quality and ground water resources.  Landowners are responsible for discharges of waste and water resource impacts both from recent as well as from past or legacy development/features on the properties that they own.

Water Code section 13260 states, in relevant part:

(a) All of the following persons shall file with the appropriate regional board a report of the discharge, containing the information which may be required by the regional board:

(1) Any person discharging waste, or proposing to discharge waste, within any region that could affect the quality of the waters of the state, other than into a community sewer system.

Regional Water Board staff recently reviewed aerial imagery of the parcel(s) identified above and observed what appears to be cannabis cultivation and/or areas prepared for cannabis cultivation, or operations with similar environmental effects.  Accordingly, you must respond to this Directive Letter within 35 calendar days from the date of this letter.

Under California Water Code section 13261, failing to submit a report of waste discharge when required by the Regional Water Board may result in the Regional Water Board assessing an administrative civil liability against you.  Administrative civil liability can run as high as $1,000 per day for every day the report is late.

Required Action

In order to comply with this legal directive, within 35 calendar days from the date of this letter, the North Coast Regional Water Board requires that you do one of the following:

  • Demonstrate that the Order does not apply to the subject parcel(s), either because there is no cultivation or other similar operation occurring, or because the operations that are occurring are not subject to the Order. The Order does not apply to any parcel with a cumulative area of cannabis cultivation of less than 2,000 square feet and where there is no potential for discharge of waste.  Provide a written response explaining your non-applicability (with all supporting documentation including photos if necessary) to the address provided below.  Regional Water Board staff may contact you to verify your response.


  • Provide proof of enrollment under the Order. If you have received a confirmation letter from the Regional Water Board it will contain a California Integrated Water Quality System Waste Discharger Identification number (CIWQS WDID Number).  Please provide the CIWQS WDID Number assigned to you as proof of enrollment.  Otherwise, please submit a copy of your Notice of Intent or have the third party you are enrolled through contact the Regional Water Board.


  • Enroll the property under the Order. If choosing this option, you must submit a completed Notice of Intent[2] (NOI) and the applicable reporting information2 with the first year’s annual fee[3] to the Regional Water Board or enroll through a third party and provide proof of enrollment to the Regional Water Board.


  • File a Report of Waste Discharge in order to obtain individual Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) specific to your property.


Please submit the appropriate documents2 and payments3 to:


North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

Attn: Connor McIntee

Cannabis Waste Discharge Regulatory Program

5550 Skylane Boulevard, Suite A

Santa Rosa, CA 95403


5)   If you no longer own or operate the parcel(s) identified above, you still need to respond to this Directive Letter with a written explanation of the circumstance.  If you have sold the property, please provide a written response explaining when and to whom you sold the property (with any supporting documents) and his/her name and contact information to the aforementioned address.  If the property is operated by a lessee, please provide the name and contact information of the lessee.  Please be aware that Regional Water Board staff may contact you to verify supporting information you have provided.


Additional Water Rights Obligations 


Water diversion and use matters are the responsibility of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), Division of Water Rights (Division).  Cannabis Cultivators will be required to be in compliance with applicable water rights laws prior to being issued a license to cultivate from the Department of Food and Agriculture as required by the Medical Marijuana Regulations and Safety Act (Assembly Bill 243, Assembly Bill 266 and Senate Bill 643).


The procedures for obtaining a water right or documenting that a water right already exists are available at:


In addition, all diverters claiming riparian or other basis of right (other than existing water right permit, license or registration) are required to record their water use with the Division.  The forms to file a Statement are available at:


You may also want to review the list of Frequently Asked Questions and additional information found at: .


If you have any water rights questions that have not been addressed using the websites listed above, you may contact the Division at (916) 341-5300.


For general information about the North Coast Regional Water Board’s Cannabis Cultivation Regulatory Program, including Order R1-2015-0023 enrollment and program information and resources, please visit:


Finally, staff from the North Coast Regional Water Board will be holding a meeting at the Trinity County Fairgrounds, located at 6000 CA-3, Hayfork, CA 96041 on Tuesday, February 21st, from 2-5 pm to provide information about the cannabis Order and to address any questions. Additionally, on Wednesday, February 22nd from 8:30-4pm, staff will be available at the Fairgrounds to provide One on One help in filling out the Notice of Intent and applicable reporting information. Staff will hold a second informational meeting and provide enrollment assistance in Eureka, on Thursday, February 23rd from 8:30 to 4 pm, at the Wharfinger Building, located at 1 Marina Way, Eureka, CA 95501.


If you have any questions or require any information regarding this matter, please contact Connor McIntee at (707) 576-2499 or via email at or Kason Grady at (707)576-2682 or via email at If you speak Hmong as your native language, and would feel more comfortable speaking in your native tongue, you may call 707-576-2676 and leave a message with your name, phone number, and email address if you have one. The Regional Water Board has engaged an interpreter to respond to calls of this nature at regular intervals, as interpretation resources allow.


We appreciate your cooperation in this matter, and we look forward to working with you to help protect natural resources and improve water quality throughout the North Coast Region.








Shin-Roei Lee

Assistant Executive Officer




Certified-Return Receipt Request



[1] Operations with similar environmental effects include agricultural operations that are not otherwise subject to existing agricultural permits or those in development.

[2] The Enrollment Notice of Intent Form can be found in Appendix A of the Order (Order 2015-0023). The reporting information required for the Monitoring and Reporting Program can be found in Appendix C of the Order. Appendix A and Appendix C are available online at

[3] Please make checks payable to the State Water Resources Control Board. The fee schedule for enrollment under the Order is available online at


2 thoughts on “NCRWQCB finally moves on widespread violations in Trinity Pines

  1. Good job TE I haven’t heard about this sounds like a good first step.


  2. no complaints about this at all, good news…BUT.. remember when satelite images first came to be freely accessible on the internet? the hubbub about it was unwarranted search and seizures, argumebts which were called ridiculous because legalities across the board insisted the images wouldnt be used for this exact kind of surveilance, searches and ultimately siezures.


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