Shasta County man settles alleged cannabis farm water pollution lawsuit

Mar 18, 2016 6:42 PM by David McVicker

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board reached an agreement Friday with a Shasta County property owner who allegedly discharged waste from a marijuana grow operation into ground water near Millville.

Owner Brent Alan Vanderkam agreed to pay a penalty of $100,000 to the state after negotiations. Prosecutors said they had proof that one of Vanderkam’s lessees developed the property to support a large scale marijuana growing operation.

Vanderkam did not identify the lessee, and as owner of the property, Vanderkam was ultimately held responsible for the discharges of waste that emanated from his property and bears all responsibility for the penalty and cleanup.

“The failure of Mr. Vanderkam or his lessee to obtain the necessary permits prior to developing the property for marijuana cultivation resulted in significant impacts to water quality,” said Clint Snyder, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board.

The settlement stems from a March 2015 complaint that alleged storm water violations associated with unpermitted work of around 2 acres, resulting in more than 700,000 gallons of sediment leaking into storm drains.

These discharges were in violation of the Federal Clean Water Act, California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Central Valley Water Board’s Basin Plan Prohibitions, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife Code.

Vanderkam is also subject to a Cleanup and Abatement Order issued on March 25, 2015, to remediate ongoing problems within the property. This requires obtaining all necessary permits; prepare a restoration, mitigation, and monitoring plan; and conduct long-term monitoring.

Vanderkam’s consultant estimates it will cost $95,000 to comply with the order, in addition to the $100,000 penalty.

“Had these individuals obtained the proper permits and conducted the grading activities in accordance with those permits, impacts to water quality and the subsequent enforcement actions would have been avoided," Snyder said. "The settlement terms reflect the egregious nature of these violations and the importance of holding landowners accountable.”

The Central Valley Water Board is a California state agency responsible for the preservation and enhancement of the quality of California’s water resources


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