Some drought-stricken rivers and streams in Northern California's coastal forests are being polluted and sucked dry by water-guzzling medical marijuana farms, wildlife officials say ...
"People are coming in, denuding the hillsides, damming the creeks and mixing in fertilizers that are not allowed in the U.S. into our watersheds," said Denise Rushing, a Lake County supervisor who supports an ordinance essentially banning outdoor grows in populated areas.
"When rains come, it flows downstream into the lake and our water supply," she said.
Many affected waterways also contain endangered salmon, steelhead and other creatures protected by state and federal law.
Wildlife biologists noticed streams running dry more often over the 18 years since the state passed Proposition 215, but weren't sure why.
"We knew people were diverting water for marijuana operations, but we wanted to know exactly how much," said Scott Bauer, the department biologist who studied the pot farms' effects on four watersheds. "We didn't know they could consume all the water in a stream."
So Bauer turned to Google mapping technology and satellite data to find out where the many gardens are, and how many plants each contained.
His study estimates that about 30,000 pot plants were being grown in each river system — and he estimates that each plant uses about six gallons per day over marijuana's 150-day growing season....
Cue Humboldt Watershed Council suit.... crickets? CRICKETS.