Also reported in the Washington Post
Title: State Water Board approves strict new pot regs
Author: Ukiah Daily Jnl
Date: 29 October 2017
Extract: For example, my boss at the Laytonville County Water District is on the State Water Resource Control Board (State Water Board). On Oct. 17, the State Water Board Water Board adopted a new statewide policy establishing strict environmental standards for cannabis cultivation in order to protect water flows and water quality in California’s rivers and streams. The new regulations and programs address the not-so-friendly watershed practices of too many cultivators. Underpinning Water Board’s regulatory framework is the realization that commercial cannabis cultivation is expected to grow significantly and spread to new areas of the state following adult use legalization.
“We are establishing the environmental protection rules of the road needed to deal with the expected expansion of cannabis cultivation statewide,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Our action creates a strict set of rules cannabis cultivators will need to follow in order to protect water quality and quantity. We will work closely with other state agencies to make sure cultivators are aware of these rules and are following them.”
They are taking a tough, no-nonsense approach to regulating and enforcing a law that was premised on statewide public demand to protect fragile public resources that all too often were savaged and ravaged by cannabis cultivators. In sharp contrast to Mendocino County and other local governments throughout the state, it is encouraging that the State Water Board is taking its job seriously when it comes to strict enforcement of its regulations.
The Board also relied on numerous reports and studies regarding the impacts of cultivation on watersheds. Here’s a staff report discussing watersheds in Mendocino and Humboldt counties:
“Cannabis cultivation has been increasing … A recent CDFW study (2015), using aerial surveys of four small watersheds in Humboldt and Mendocino counties found that the number of acres in cannabis cultivation doubled from 2009 to 2012, with an estimated 500 individual operations and approximately 30,000 plants in each of these small watersheds. The study concluded that water demand for cannabis cultivation has the potential to divert substantial portions of streamflow in the studied watersheds, with an estimated flow reduction of up to 23 percent of the annual seven-day low flow in the least impacted of the studied watersheds. Estimates from the other study watersheds indicate that water demand for cannabis cultivation exceeds the streamflow during the low-flow period. In the most impacted watersheds, diminished streamflow is likely to: have lethal or sub-lethal effects on state- and federally-listed salmon and steelhead trout; and cause further decline of sensitive amphibian species. The 2015 CDFW study concluded that cannabis cultivation on private land has grown so much in the North Coast region that Coho salmon, a federal and state listed endangered species, may go extinct in the near future if the impacts of cannabis cultivation are not addressed immediately. Rare (listed) and sensitive species affected by water diversion for cannabis cultivation in the North Coast region include: Coho salmon; Chinook salmon; steelhead trout; coastal cutthroat trout; southern torrent salamander; red legged frog; northern spotted owl; and Pacific fisher. Other species throughout the state such as deer, bear, and various birds are also being harmed by cannabis cultivation-related impacts to streams.”
Title: County cannabis group developing enforcement approach, conducts first raid since rules adopted
Author: Monterey Herald
Date: 30 October 2017
Extract: Nearly two dozen staff from several Monterey County departments, including Sheriff’s deputies, and state agencies conducted the first raids on allegedly illegal marijuana grows last month since the county’s medical cannabis regulations were adopted. The Sept. 22 raids, which are expected to be replicated, reflect the county’s new multi-agency approach to enforcing local marijuana laws governing a rapidly expanding local industry.
Among the county departments involved in the raids on three separate grows on Argyle Road in Lockwood and the months-long investigations and organization efforts that led to them as part of the county’s recently formed cannabis working group were the District Attorney, County Counsel, Resource Management Agency, Health Department, Treasurer-Tax Collector, Agricultural Commissioner, and County Administrative Office, along with the California Department of Forestry and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Together, they covered everything from legal and regulatory advice, historical and active on-site code violations, tax payments, environmental regulations and damage, and illegal wildlife luring and killing.
During the raids, four people were found to be allegedly growing marijuana illegally without a county permit in an area not zoned for cultivation.