SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — Three property owners in Shasta County face thousands of dollars in fines due to violations involving cannabis grows.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the fines over water quality violations at two properties one in Ono, the other near Cottonwood Creek.
The state fined Teng Vang $83,187 for failing to clean up a cannabis grow site on property he owned in Shasta County. The action comes nearly two years after the Board issued a cleanup and abatement order to Vang.
At a February 8 hearing, the Board determined Vang, 41, of Sacramento, failed to restore and monitor his property after Board inspectors found evidence of water quality problems related to the development of the land for cannabis cultivation, including the grading and construction of stream crossings and access roads without obtaining the proper permits.
State authorities said sediment discharges from these activities either impacted or threatened to impact tributaries to Ducket Creek and North Fork Cottonwood Creek, both of which support salmon habitat.
Vang also built an unpermitted surface water diversion to provide irrigation for the cannabis grow. The Board's fine does not relieve Vang and the current property owners of their obligation to clean-up the property.
"The penalty reflects the serious nature of these violations and the importance of holding landowners accountable for such activities," said Clint Snyder, Assistant Executive Officer for the Central Valley Water Board. "Had Mr. Vang worked with our staff and complied with the Cleanup and Abatement Order, impacts to water quality and the subsequent enforcement actions could have been avoided."
In a separate case, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a $150,000 fine against Kongkeo Khamvongsa and Alexandra Kensavath for their failure to clean up a cannabis grow site on property they own in Shasta County. The Regional Board had previously issued a cleanup and abatement order to them in June 2016.
At a February 8 hearing, the Regional Board determined that Khamvongsa, from Wisconsin, and Kensavath, of Fresno, failed to restore and monitor their property after Board inspectors found evidence of water quality problems related to the development of the property for cannabis cultivation, including grading of 2.6 acres and construction of an earthen dam without obtaining permits.
These activities resulted in the discharge and potential discharge of waste to several streams on the property that are tributary to Fidler Creek and North Fork Cottonwood Creek. Both creeks provide salmon habitat near the unincorporated community of Ono in western Shasta County.
In addition to the financial penalties, Khamvongsa and Kensavath are legally required to clean up the property. The California Water Code authorizes the Board to issue cleanup and abatement orders to any person causing or threatening to cause impacts to waters of the state, including the owner(s) of the land where those discharges or threatened discharged occurred.
"State and Regional Water Board staff and legal counsel, in conjunction with their colleagues at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, have gone to great lengths to hold Mr. Khamvongsa and Ms. Kensavath accountable for their actions," said Snyder.