In 2019, the California State Water Board adopted the Cannabis Cultivation Policy in hopes of fixing these issues. The policy implements: “a surface water diversion forbearance period to ensure adequate flows are maintained throughout the dry season and protect aquatic species, aquatic habitat, and water quality.” To adhere to this new restriction, cannabis growers have been pushed in one of three directions.
The final solution is to move irrigation to groundwater wells, the step many farmers have already taken. However, the water stream flow is still threatened.
The water above ground is not the only water involved in a stream. There is also water below ground, in the pockets of space between rocks and sediments that don’t fit perfectly together. When water flows in a stream, the water above ground flows quickly, in addition to the water between the spaces in the ground also flows.
When cannabis growers divert the stream flow, they take water from this above ground section. The groundwater would then flow to replenish it, but often slower than the depletion, leading to decreased water levels.
So, if we want to save our salmon and aquatic life, it is our responsibility to decrease our water just as much as it is the cannabis industry’s responsibility to find better water management strategies.
The urgency for innovation from cannabis growers and American homeowners to decrease fresh water usage is imperative in the face of climate change. What are some of the ways you’re trying to save water? Any cool irrigation innovations? Let us know in the comments below.
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