Court approves environmental violation settlement

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A Humboldt County Superior Court judge ruled that the California Department of Water and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) had illegally constructed an upstream reservoir and diverted water from it without first obtaining the required permits. approved a settlement requiring marijuana growers to pay $1.75 million.

The settlement, reached after a lengthy investigation, resolves the following violations by Joshua Sweet and his companies, The Hills LLC and Shadowlight Ranch LLC: Converting oak forests to cannabis cultivation. Failed to cooperate with the State Water Resources Control Board, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, and CDFW to meet permit requirements.

The $1 million fine will be suspended if Sweet completes repairs to the damaged property by 2026. This work includes the removal of three unauthorized impoundments and the restoration of river channels and damaged wetlands.

“It is important that all cannabis growers take environmental responsibility and protect California’s water supply and water quality,” said Taro Murano, program manager, Cannabis Enforcement Division, Bureau of Water Rights, State Water Authority. “Sweet chose to operate his business in disregard of regulations meant to protect the environment. He must now repair the environmental damage he caused and pay a hefty fine. Business interests should not be gained by ignoring the law and harming the environment.”

According to the proposed settlement, Sweet must pay $500,000 to the Water Rights Authority, $175,000 to North Coast Water Authority and $75,000 to CDFW over five years. In addition, we must obtain all necessary permits, cease unauthorized water diversions and uses, restrict future real estate development, and comply with all applicable regulations.

“This incident is the culmination of years of hard work by our dedicated staff to repair damage to riverbed waterways, wetland habitat, and oak forests,” said CDFW Acting Law Enforcement Director Nathaniel Arnold. “The proposed settlement also speaks volumes about the egregious nature of this case and should send a strong message to those who engage in cannabis cultivation in defiance of state regulations. Our natural resources will be respected. You deserve it.”

More information about cannabis enforcement can be found on the State Water Commission and CDFW websites.

The mission of the State Water Commission is to conserve, enhance, and restore California’s water resources and drinking water quality to protect the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses, and to provide adequate water for current and future generations. is to secure the quota.

CDFW’s mission is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources and the habitats they depend on for their ecological value and use and enjoyment by the public.

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