Within less than a year...............
as many as 50,000 marijuana growers in California could be required to obtain state permits for the irrigation water they consume.
It is an unprecedented step aimed at preventing harm to the environment and other water users resulting from the rapid growth of marijuana cultivation in the state.
Water for MJThis new ability to regulate water for marijuana growing is a result of SB 837, a state law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27. It’s a budget trailer bill, which specifies numerous operating details of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, signed into law on Ocober 9, 2015. This law establishes a comprehensive system to regulate cannabis growing in California, for the first time.
It’s a huge new water management effort that has never been attempted in the United States, not even among states that are already regulating marijuana cultivation.
One problem with marijuana growing is that the crop often needs water when it is least abundant: in the summer. Thus, historically, many have taken water from streams when it is most needed to sustain sensitive fish and other species that are struggling to survive long, hot summer months.
So under the new regulations, even if a grower has a verified riparian water right, they will not be allowed to divert water whenever they want. Instead, they will be directed to build water storage, such as ponds or tanks, and collect what they need for a full year when streams are flush in the winter.