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I don't want to rain on your parade but this news really bowled me over. How can it be that we didn't know this? A single pot plant consumes 6 gallons of water per day!
Streams in Northern California's prime marijuana-growing watersheds likely will be sucked dry this year if pot cultivation isn't curtailed, experts say. “Essentially, marijuana can consume all the water. Every bit of it,” said state Fish and Wildlife Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Bauer, who specializes in salmon recovery and is working on a study of the issue.
California is overdrilling its ground water in the midst of a historic drought. A drought which is exasperated by their water intensive agriculture needs and which are projected to to be more extreme and frequent in the future due to climate change. It becomes paramount that every water use is examined for efficiency.
Even without drought, there isn't going to be enough water to meet the pot industry's growing demand, Bauer said. Just the illegal marijuana plants confiscated in California by law enforcement in recent years — between 2 million and 4 million annually — use upward of 1.8 billion gallons — or about 600,000 water tanker trucks over their five-month growing season, based on the average water usage documented in the study.
Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day. At that rate, the plants were siphoning off 180,000 gallons of water per day in each watershed — altogether more than 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the average 150-day growing cycle for outdoor plants. Plants grown in inland Mendocino County, where it's hot in the summer, will use more water, while those in cooler regions can use less, Blake said. He estimates it takes 60,000 gallons to 75,000 gallons to raise 25 plants, the current limit for medicinal marijuana in Mendocino County.
The problem is that pot growers are labeled illegal unless they are growing medical marijuana and are therefore unregulated. And so growers are more concerned with getting caught with their illegal crop than they are of water and environmental concerns.