Cal Cannabis Water Rights Support In Fortuna and Redway This Week
The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Division of Water Rights are holding Cannabis Cultivation Permitting Open Houses to help cannabis permit applicants get their water rights and their 1600 agreements in place for the state cannabis cultivation permit through the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The Workshops will be at the River Lodge conference center in Fortuna on Wednesday the 29th and at the Mateel Community Center in Redway on Thursday the 30th, and in Ukiah at the Conference Center on September 5th. The Open Houses run from 10am to 3pm.
Robert Cervantes is a Senior Engineer with the Department of Water Resources within the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Cervantes heads the Cannabis Registration Program. That program provides Cannabis Certificates for storage of winter flows for summer time use on cannabis crops. Cervantes also makes certain that aspiring cannabis cultivators have met their requirements for the water quality.
In a phone interview, Cervantes explained,
A Cannabis Registration Certificate is actually a water right. We call it the Small Irrigation Use Registration. It’s an expedited type of process rather than going through the traditional appropriative water right program.
We have it set up for folks to come in, they give us their information and they pay a $750 fee and we can get them their water right in weeks instead of years.
Computers and Staff On-Site to Get Your Water Storage Permit
He also said, “The format of these public outreaches is we are going to give a brief presentation, basically outlining what our cannabis policy is. And what folks need to do to get registered with our programs.”
Cervantes explained that at the workshops being held in Weaverville, Fortuna, Redway and Ukiah, people will get the help they need to get through the state’s portal and get their water right application filed. (The open house in Weaverville was on the 21st.)
Cervantes described the outline of the workshops,
So, we are going to have a brief presentation outlining all of the program requirements, but we are also going to have computers and tables set up for folks to come in ask their site specific questions. We’ll have staff there to answer. And we’ll also have staff there to help walk people through establishing their online account. And even getting their water right and their water quality permit if they have all the information they need to get through the online portal.
What to Bring
The information you will need includes your APN number, contact information for the property owner, and the cultivator if that is not the property owner. Water use information needs to include: all existing water right numbers (Small Domestic Registration, Initial Statement, Permit, License, etc.) or other water right information; point of Diversion (POD) and Water source information (Name, Location, stream characteristics, etc.); Place of Use (POU) information (APN, parcel acreage, cultivation acreage, non-cannabis irrigation acreage, number of plants); Diversion Works information (method and conveyance specifics); information on water use for cannabis plants (gallons or acre feet), the planned number of irrigation days, and irrigation rate; planned water use amounts for any incidental uses (aesthetic, fire protection, recreational, or fish and wildlife) in gallons per year and a justification for the amount; offstream storage information such as number of existing tanks/bladders, number of proposed tanks/bladders, existing capacity, and proposed capacity; project description (area to be graded, diversion operation, and complete or proposed project features); and finally, the Project Completion Schedule.
It’s Yet to Become a Trend
Not very many people have signed up for the right to store water yet. Cervantes said,
Right now we have a total of 375 people who have come in and registered for their water right. And we have certified 172 if them.
Many folks have come in, but they haven’t paid yet.
We are not going to look at those applications until we receive the fee.
Once we receive the $750 fee, we will review the application.
We correspond with the applicant via email or telephone….We try to clarify any deficiencies we find in the application. We clear those up and then get them their water right so they can go to CDFA and CalCannabis and get their license.
Cervantes was joined in the interview by Assistant Deputy Director of Water Rights, Julie Rissardo, who oversees the permitting and enforcement branch of the Division of Water Right. She announced,
What we need is for people to come in and get registered. As Robert said, we have a few hundred registrations in the door. We know that there are literally thousands of cultivators out there who need to get registered, and we want to help them get registered.
This is an important, first, critical step before they can receive registrations from other agencies. So that is why it’s really critical right now to get started.
We are in a massive outreach phase right now.
These workshops are targeted in the areas we are hearing are areas where the cultivators need the help.
In these workshops, we are looking forward to actually getting people registered at the event. We will have the computers there. Folks can also bring their own laptops.
We are really trying to make it as easy as possible to get the most number of people registered.
Diversion Capacity and Schedule
Cannabis Registration Certificate allow storage of diversions of up to a maximum of 6.6 acre feet of water a year. This equates to about 2 million gallons of water.
The volume is determined by the maximum diversion rate of 10 gallons per minute, every minute of the day, multiplied by the number of days in the diversion season which is 151.
The diversion season is November 1st through March 31st.
Cervantes said that “from 12:00 a.m. on November 1st through 11:59 p.m. on March 31,” Cannabis Certificate holders can divert 10 gallons of water per minute so long as the stream at their point of diversion is deemed to be at an adequate flow to support the diversion.
Cervantes said the Division of Water Rights is creating an online mapping tool for water diverters. He said, “It’ll be like a red light, green light. If the light is green, turn your pump on; if the light is red, that means there is not enough water in the stream for you to divert for cannabis.”
Cervantes also talked about the reporting mandates that are necessary for cannabis diverters,
Every year you will need to come onto our online reporting management system, and we send folks letters with their user name and password to access this system. What we want to know is how much water the diverters use each month.
Cervantes said the tool “has a calendar layout, and the cultivators will enter how much water they used in each month, and how much they diverted during the winter season.”