Water Board and Fish & Wildlife Requirements for State Cannabis Licenses

Water Board Authorization

Prop 64 mandates that all cannabis cultivation needs to be in compliance with Water Board (WB) regulations. Water Board permits may be required for state temporary licenses and state annual licenses.

* Please note that the timeline for Water Board applications to be processed can take up to 2 weeks*

Have you received a notice from the Water Board?

  • Now that it has been two years since the passing of Prop 64, the WB is contacting cannabis farmers to encourage them to enroll in the WB program. Outreach is conducted based on priority watersheds. A significant portion of Western Nevada County is characterized as being located within a priority watershed. This includes the entirety of the Ridge, Penn Valley, and portions of South County.
  • The Central Valley Water Quality Control Board is actively working in Nevada County to encourage enrollment in the Statewide General Order Permit for Cannabis Cultivation. They are concentrating their efforts in smaller watersheds that drain to the Yuba River watershed. If you receive a notice please contact the Cannabis Permitting and Compliance unit at: 530-224-4845. Contacting Water Board staff is critical to ensure that your site information is marked as compliant under state law.

What is Required?

  • State applications require evidence of enrollment with the applicable Regional Water Quality Control Board or State Water Resources Control Board for water quality protection programs or written verification from the appropriate board that enrollment is not necessary.

*Before you begin the application make sure you have everything on this CHECKLIST*

Steps to enroll in the Water Board program:



Fish and Wildlife

Cannabis cultivators applying for annual License from the California Department of Food and Agriculture must have a Lake and Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement or written verification that one is not needed. CDFW requires an LSA Agreement when a project activity may substantially adversely affect fish and wildlife resources. LSA Agreements provide actions to avoid and minimize adverse impacts and provide protections to California’s fish and wildlife resources.

  • If you believe your cannabis cultivation project will not substantially modify any river, stream, or lake, you may complete the online self-certification. CDFW will review the information you submit and determine whether you need to submit a notification.
  • *UPDATE* – Cultivators who are not using/altering waterways – on the State Temporary Application can simply put N/A for Fish & Wildlife requirements
    • Online Self-Certification is for indoor cultivators and/or cultivation within urban areas

Before beginning self-certification, applicants need to have the following information:

Property Location

Provide a description of the property location including:

Project Description

Provide a detailed description of all project activities. Describe in detail the following information:

  • All phases of construction;
  • Any structures that will be constructed, maintained, operated, or modified in or near any stream, river, or lake;
  • Any channel clearing activities;
  • Specific volume and dimensions of all materials and features that will be used, installed, and/or removed from any stream, river, or lake;
  • If water will be diverted or drafted, specify the point of diversion, purpose, and where it will be used; and
  • Equipment to be used during project activities.

Water Source

Identify all water sources for the cannabis cultivation site(s) and provide supporting documentation for those sources.

  • Provide the latitude and longitude for each diversion, spring, reservoir, or well used for the project.
  • If using a well, include a Well Completion Report or similar information.
  • If using a public water system, provide the most recent copy of water services bill.
  • If using water hauling, provide the name of the water hauler.

Project Maps and Photographs

Provide detailed maps depicting the project and supporting photographs.

  • Include a north arrow and map scale in all maps.
  • Mark the location of the project(s) on the map(s) with reference to the nearest city or town.
  • Mark the location of any spring or well being used in comparison to the project.
  • Provide driving directions from a major highway or road.
  • Include any photographs or other material that may assist CDFW in determining impacts to a river, stream, or lake.


*The Alliance is supplying the above information as a resource. It is always best for applicants to contact the state agencies directly with any questions*


If you are already enrolled with the Water Board and looking for information on 2018 Annual Monitoring Reporting that is due, here is a great reference document 2018_State Annual Reporting FAQ (click link).