Researchers at UC Berkeley find that keeping cannabis farms in the licensed market is key for preventing impacts to streams

Water being diverted for an illegal marijuana grow.

Water being diverted for an illegal marijuana grow. [Photo from CDFW in 2019]

Press release from UC Berkeley’s Cannabis Research Center:

Watershed scientists have been exploring how the water use footprint of licensed cannabis compares to unlicensed cannabis water demand, residential water demand, and available stream flow.

The Berkeley Cannabis Research Center in the College of Environmental Science Policy & Management at UC Berkeley publicized their latest science brief, “Water Use: Cannabis in Context” this month ahead of the upcoming Measure A ballot.

After reviewing data from Humboldt and Mendocino County watersheds, their findings and recommendations are as follows:

-Water use by cannabis farms represents a small fraction (<1%) of natural surface water supplies in most watersheds

-The majority of water demand for cannabis cultivation comes from unlicensed farms, rather than licensed farms, particularly during the dry season (June – September)

-Water storage by cannabis farms shifts the timing of water withdrawals away from the dry season, and has been an effective management practice for reducing impacts to surface flows

-Providing incentives for farmers to increase off-stream storage for irrigation is a key strategy for reducing water extraction during the dry season

-Disincentivizing cannabis farms from participating in the licensed industry will likely only exacerbate impacts to dry season stream flows, as unlicensed farms are less likely to utilize water storage to satisfy dry season irrigation demands

Citation: Dillis, C., Butsic, V., Georgakakos, P., Grantham, T.. 2024. Water Use: Cannabis in Context. Cannabis Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

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John
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John
3 months ago

It takes a University of California “study” to come to that conclusion? Well, maybe so. This way, everybody can go, “See, see, the people at Berkeley College conducted a study! Gee!”

A is for a**hole
Guest
A is for a**hole
3 months ago

Let the water flow.

Vote no on A.

North westCertain license plate out of thousands c
Guest
North westCertain license plate out of thousands c
3 months ago

Be nice if all the “farming” moved down south so trees could grow in the mountains
Sure a few plants are fine but blowing up a whole
Hillside is disgusting.

fndrbndr
Member
3 months ago

Agreed, but most responsible farms in the hills were built on logged parcels that were never replanted or areas naturally devoid of trees.

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
3 months ago

“Blowing up a whole hillside” is not permissible within the current permitting framework.

That appears to be part of the reason they concluded that strengthening the legal market is the best way to mitigate water issues from cannabis

old guy
Guest
old guy
3 months ago

1% of what water ? local creek, local drainage watershed, the state, the universe ?

Wake up
Guest
Wake up
3 months ago
Reply to  old guy

The water that falls in any given water shed… wake up

old guy
Guest
old guy
3 months ago
Reply to  Wake up

you know they pulled that figure outof their rear end, right? i’d like to see some actual survey of ‘any given watershed’ they did.

Last edited 3 months ago
BudD
Member
Bud
3 months ago
Reply to  old guy

Uh no, that would “<1%”…

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
3 months ago

In a random sample of 91 watersheds of Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, estimated residential demand exceeded demands of licensed cannabis cultivation in nearly all (97%) of them. On average, licensed cannabis farm demands are one-tenth the amount of water as residential demand. Water demands for other forms of agriculture in the region far exceed those of cannabis and residential use.

It would be interesting to see which watersheds were randomly sampled? Or how they got the “estimated” residential demand and did they estimate the licensed or unlicensed cannabis farms or just average? Where did they get the average?

What was the baseline water demand used by both residential water use, licensed or unlicensed water use? How many people living in the residential household, how many square feet of cannabis and was the cannabis grown indoor or outdoor?

Who produced this “science brief”?

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/2515-7620/acb6d5/meta

They have a citation The bottom of the press release

Ed VoiceD
Member
3 months ago

And at the bottom of the paper citation, it states:

AcknowledgmentsThis work was made possible in part through funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Resources Legacy Fund, and the Campbell Foundation. We thank Jennifer Natali for help with figure production. We are also thankful for the work of over 20 undergraduate students who digitized cannabis cultivation sites in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties.

https://resourceslegacyfund.org/

https://www.campbellfoundation.org/

And its funny they also say:

Data availability statementThe data generated and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available for legal/ethical reasons but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Which means they will not or cannot support or back up what their claim…

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
3 months ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

So what you’re saying; its OK to use state agency funding, e.g. public tax funding (CDFW), to form an opinion and publish a study that claims they do not need to disclose the information that supports their theory or is fact based, because they are UC Berkeley?

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
3 months ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

I do not see any “boilerplate language” in this paper:

Impacts of Surface Water Diversions for Marijuana Cultivation on Aquatic Habitat in Four Northwestern California Watersheds
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0120016

B Honest
Guest
B Honest
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

Ed

I love your need to investigate.
Why not tell us how the Government lied to us during prohibition?

1) us patent for THC is held by the United States Government yet they claim no medical value

2) cannabis kills brain cells
1970’s remember that study?

Once it was investigated it was debunked.

They basically suffocated a monkey by placing a face mask and pump pure smoke and zero oxygen for several minutes.

The monkey suffered brain damage because of lack of oxygen and nothing to do with Cannabis

I really do appreciate your need to investigate and I have no issue with it.

I wish you would call a all farmer and ask their opinion because this is a vote to destroy their ability to compete in a world market.

Arguments for measure A are solely based on hatred towards a peaceful plant.

Do you dislike cannabis because people enjoy it, use it medically or purely environmental reasons?

If we understand why you don’t approve of cannabis then we can talk rational about a solution.

Thanks and have a good day

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
3 months ago
Reply to  B Honest

All good questions, thank you for asking.

What buisness did you try and start in Garberville that was thrown under the bus and by whom?

B Honest
Guest
B Honest
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

I never got to start the business. I have a 5,000 sq ft museum sitting in storage along with enough merchandise to fill another 5,000 sq ft.

My retirement plan was a simple one. Purchase land southern facing and lots of water. I did my research prior to 2014 on what was needed for water Rights and more.

I applied mid year 2016 and my application wasn’t excepted by a person on the desk at the planning department. So I hired a local consultant who dropped off the application ($20k).

I was ready to look into purchasing a building and using it as a museum / retail shop but for some reason my cannabis permit took 21 months for me to receive my temporary permit.

I applied for the State permit without using a consultant.
I actually finished the state permit prior to Humboldt County assigning me a planner to work on my project. My planner was assigned 28 months after I had applied.

So basically 2 1/2 years after applying i hadn’t moved anywhere in the line. It was hard to place a down payment on a building when you can’t get a simple 10,000 sq ft pre-existing grow permitted.

In the end it took another three years of complete B.S.

It ended with an appeal laced with false allegations from the planning department all which have been proven to be false.

Yet not one Board member will discipline a county employee after proof has been handed o them that the planning department lies on staff reports.

How can I justify another attempt at getting permitted in any unincorporated part of Humboldt?

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
3 months ago
Reply to  B Honest

Break a leg or two on your race for 2nd District Supervisor…

B Honest
Guest
B Honest
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

Much appreciated.
I am just trying to keep people honest and clean house if they can’t keep it professional.

Keep commenting please any dialogue is good for the people.

B Honest
Guest
B Honest
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

Ed
For sh@#s and giggles.
You can view the planning commission hearing on 5/17/2019. It was a joke.

Then I had a zone administration hearing on Dec 3rd, 2020 but I pulled it because they hadn’t uploaded my attachments.

So then we did it again on Dec 17,2020 zone administration hearing. Again that was a joke. They had two weeks and still didn’t upload my documents for the hearing.

So on Jan 5, 2021 applied for an appeal. You watch that appeal on June 28, 2022. Yep 539 days after the appeal was filed. That’s 500 days late according to Humboldt County code.

Anyway watch file #22-830 appeal and you will see why we need a serious change at the Board of Supervisor. It is at the June 28,2022 Board of Supervisors meeting. It starts 4:00. Hrs into the meeting.

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

Why does this measure A stuff get you so worked up?

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
3 months ago

Who said I was “so worked up”?

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

The only topic that elicits a more vigorous response from you is municipa water in garberville/redway.

Briceland4ever
Guest
Briceland4ever
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

Ed voice our very own out of town look under every rock detective.
We all know how corrupt you think Humboldt county is.
The irony is I’m sure the very town you live in has issues that could use your keen eye.
Every Single time you post I think of a dog with a bone that just wont let go.
But you did let go! You moved.
Your opinion counts about as much as a fart in the wind.
Keep farting Ed your good at it.
Our problems here won’t be fixed by keyboard warriors!
Good hardworking people and their family’s will.
Come clean a watershed out Ed. Come clean the mess up physically or just keep farting in the wind.

A is for a**hole
Guest
A is for a**hole
3 months ago
Reply to  Briceland4ever

A fart in the wind is the most considerate way to do it.

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
3 months ago
Reply to  Briceland4ever

I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down
I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down…

JustinCase
Guest
JustinCase
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

The average water use for cannabis is 1.5 acre feet per acre planted for full season outdoor cannabis. I know this because I manage 30 acres of cannabis canopy each year.

Moshe Doshan
Guest
Moshe Doshan
3 months ago

I would be curious to know what percentage of legal farms irrigate using well water during the dry season. I call bull**** that their wells do not affect surface flows on creeks and rivers.

In the majority of cases they are hydrologically connected to surface flows but if you pay a consultant enough money they will say anything.

Country Bumpkin
Guest
Country Bumpkin
3 months ago
Reply to  Moshe Doshan

Since you have “called bullbleep” I’m curious to know how YOU determine if a well is hydrologically connected to a surface flow? I don’t believe a paid consultant “saying something” works for the county, CalCannabis, and CDFW to sign off on a permit. If so then the whole system of permitting is corrupt and no regulations would have any effect to safeguard against environmentally detrimental activities.

Huh ????
Guest
Huh ????
3 months ago

You are correct, a geologist is required to sign off on the said well, and often do not approve them .

JustinCase
Guest
JustinCase
3 months ago
Reply to  Huh ????

What makes you think a geologist has to sign off on that?
Not at our farm they did not. Besides, farms can always look for the geologist who can be bought off. There is hundreds of them. Same goes for archeologists. We did have to have an archeologists sign off on our farm. The guy missed several archeological sites that I found myself. He knew less of the subject than I do & I’m just a simple farm manager, with nothing but a highschool diploma and a keen eye for details related to the environent around me.
Oh and our wells are 1000 feet above the largest natural lake in California, so I’d think they effect stream flows below us.

Huh ????
Guest
Huh ????
3 months ago
Reply to  Moshe Doshan

A consultant isn’t the person determining that ! A geologist is required by the state to determine this, so not sure where you got that information.

JustinCase
Guest
JustinCase
3 months ago
Reply to  Huh ????

The state does not require a geologist.
If your well was drilled legally & is permitted by the county at the time of drilling then it can be used. Most were drilled without the mention of cannabis.

Huh ????
Guest
Huh ????
3 months ago
Reply to  JustinCase

Yes, in our area on the river , we were required to have a geologist report prior to approval! And, in fact the county approved use of our legal well only for six months out of the year ! We are required to have rain catchment for the remaining months . Which Tier are you ? We also had to have an archeological survey for Indian artifacts as you mentioned.

Last edited 3 months ago
fndrbndr
Member
3 months ago
Reply to  JustinCase

The county requires a hydrological study by a geologist for a well associated with a cannabis permit. If a well was drilled for residential it cannot be used for commercial cannabis until it’s transferred to commercial use and the study is complete.

Ed VoiceD
Member
3 months ago

I found this, more information and the actual paper written for the above press release.

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/2515-7620/acb6d5

FMF
Guest
FMF
3 months ago

Cannabis is one of the least water intensive crops or types of agriculture in general state wide. Legal farms follow the most stringent rules regarding water use, storage, monitoring of any industry.

VOTE NO ON MEASURE A

Lost Croat OutburstD
Member
Lost Croat Outburst
3 months ago
Reply to  FMF

Takes less water to grow cannabis than corn or tomatoes. Perhaps not as efficient as pomegranates, but not bad. Not sure about grapes but likely less water with weed in the long run.
California has worked out strenuous laws for conventional and organic crops for at least a century. Instead of applying the exact same rules to weed as for anything else, a bizarre, arcane, Byzantine, labyrinthine gobbledegook of regulations were assembled, ignoring grower input, so this is where we are and why red States will beat us at our own game.
Recently, A bottle of Humboldt Vodka from Fortuna was delivered to our door by the USPS. It’ll probably take another century to dig out from this mess. Prohibition screwed the juicers; that took a few years to dig out of. Legalization, California-style, will kill this industry. So much for California leadership.

Ed VoiceD
Member
3 months ago
Reply to  FMF

I take it you have never grown english walnut trees grafted to a black walnut root stock.

Huh ????
Guest
Huh ????
3 months ago
Reply to  FMF

Agreed. Having grown both cannabis and hay , the hay uses an enormous amount of water versus cannabis! It’s a tad ridiculous really , that I can run my irrigation 24/7 for hay and can use no water from the same well for half the year .

JustinCase
Guest
JustinCase
3 months ago
Reply to  FMF

The only monitoring that is enforced is the reporting of water meter readings & staff gauge readings. All licensed farms must be metered, staff gauge readings taken weekly or monthly depending if it is surface water that someone has water right to use & depending on lake size. Water reports sent in at the end of the “water year” which is October 1st.
I do all the reporting for 3 lakes & 4 wells at a large cannabis operation by the way.
I know the routine
The state never bothers with checking run off or water quality monitoring. They sent me emails telling me not to bother myself with any of that work.
I of course saved those in case it ever comes up.

Big Rick
Guest
Big Rick
3 months ago

You guys really focus on cannabis but obviously ignore the massive amount of water used by the fucking vineyards everywhere at levels far beyond the cannabis. 🤡🤡

JustinCase
Guest
JustinCase
3 months ago
Reply to  Big Rick

Cannabis uses more than grapes my man.
Average use for cannabis is 1.5 acre feet per acre planted in native soils for full season outdoor.
Having grown 30 acres of full season, native soil cannabis canopy each year since 2018 has proven that number to be correct.

B Honest
Guest
B Honest
3 months ago
Reply to  JustinCase

That is false.
I grow direct into the soil and I use way less water.

The key to getting your stuff frosty and full of crystals is reducing the water after the months of September and October

Thanks again Lake county grower who admits to violating the waste discharge.

Maybe reduce your grow to 10,000 and be an environmental sustainable.

Huh ????
Guest
Huh ????
3 months ago
Reply to  B Honest

Totally agree ,utilizing your native soils uses way less water then bags . Also feel your pain on the above situation you laid out regarding your legalization! We spent so much $$$$ on legalization and it literally took four years ! By the time we got legal we only had one good year of prices before the market took a dive . So now here we are, thankfully we never quit our other jobs , trying to reconcile ourselves with what happened.

fndrbndr
Member
3 months ago
Reply to  JustinCase

If you grow in the valley temperatures are completely different from the Hills in Humboldt. Holy crap you use 14,670,000 per year that’s a lot of water! Our farm is spread out on 1 acre. Canopy is 13k sqft. On average 35,000 gallons per year. One tenth of an acre foot.

Come to the hills my man. I guess we just figured out it’s better for the environment.

JustinCase
Guest
JustinCase
3 months ago

I manage a 30 acre cannabis farm in lake county. Fully licensed and permitted. We use 45 acre feet of water for our full season outdoor farm.
This study only tells half the story. Just as important as flows is the subject of runoff & erosion. The county and state don’t pay a shred of attention to what goes on during the wet season, and let me tell you that when you have major downpours on a field that was tilled & row cropped the season before, no amount of silt fence, waddles, or other controls can stop the issues caused by run off & erosion. Any nearby creeks and streams will be heavily silted. We do all we can to stay compliant & to protect the environment, but every winter I feel like we fail. It makes me feel awful but we cam only do so much. Its impossible to work when once that ground is wet, no machines can get into it & humans can’t even walk in it. Try fixing silt fence when every step you take your boots get stuck in 3 feet of what feels like quick sand.
I’d quit my career because I’m ashamed of the damage being done but someone else would just fill the void, probably a latino, & I know for a fact that person would care far less than I do, so even more damage would be done.

B Honest
Guest
B Honest
3 months ago
Reply to  JustinCase

Thanks lake county grower for letting us know you violate the waste discharge on a mega 30 acre farm.

Humboldt doesn’t have farms anywhere close to that size due to environmental issues.

It sounds like a shwag operation that would like to see less competition from skilled Humboldt growers.

Best of luck

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
3 months ago
Reply to  JustinCase

You should probably take some steps to get living roots going in your field for the time after cannabis harvest so that you dont have so much run off.

That’s pretty irresponsible of you. Instead of quitting your job you could just do it better