Dear Deeply Readers,

Welcome to the archives of Water Deeply. While we paused regular publication of the site on November 1, 2018, we are happy to serve as an ongoing public resource on water resilience. We hope you’ll enjoy the reporting and analysis that was produced by our dedicated community of editors and contributors.

We continue to produce events and special projects while we explore where the on-site journalism goes next. If you’d like to reach us with feedback or ideas for collaboration you can do so at [email protected].

Water Deeply Talks: Water and Cannabis in California

Cannabis cultivation in California – legal and illegal – can come at a cost to local water and wildlife. Water Deeply talks to experts about the impacts and upcoming state regulations.

Written by Ian Evans Published on Read time Approx. 1 minutes
Marijuana growth can come at a cost to local water, even when it is legal.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

In our latest Water Deeply Talk, managing editor Tara Lohan, joined by expert guests Scott Greacen, executive director of Friends of the Eel River, and Water Deeply contributing editor Matt Weiser, spoke about cannabis production in California and how it affects water throughout the state.

The heart of California’s marijuana production is in the “Emerald Triangle” – an area in the north made up of parts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties. In these remote mountain areas, many illegal growers have leached chemicals into local waterways, harming fish and other wildlife.

“We’ve seen black bears writhing in agony,” notes Greacen.

Illegal farms often pump as much water as they can into cultivation, draining local streams. However, even people growing marijuana legally can spoil local water with construction and road use that spill sediment and pollution into waterways and threaten fish.

With the passage of Proposition 64 last year legalizing recreational marijuana sales, large growing operations are also opening in desert communities in Southern California. Weiser notes that the town of Desert Hot Springs – less than two hours east of Los Angeles – is enjoying a marijuana boom, as is Nipton, a small town on the Nevada border. Operations in these communities will be entirely dependent on local groundwater, some of which is replenished by Colorado River imports.

To find out more, you can listen to our full, 30-minute conversation.

To join future Deeply Talks, make sure you are signed up for the Water Deeply newsletter below.

Suggest your story or issue.


Share Your Story.

Have a story idea? Interested in adding your voice to our growing community?

Learn more
× Dismiss
We have updated our Privacy Policy with a few important changes specific to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and our use of cookies. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies. Read our full Privacy Policy here.