Scott Bauer, an environmental scientist with the Department of Fish and Game did a comprehensive study of the effects of Cannabis cultivation on the Mad River watershed and reported results to the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. He identified pollutants as petroleum products, fertilizers and pesticides. Fish predominate in the watershed were identified as Coho and Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Cutthroat Trout. He used Google maps from 1998 to 2014 to measure changes in the landscape. A majority of the farms were on private property, much on Green Diamond lands.
The study found that there were 14,414 outdoor plants and 42,512 indoor plants in 438 greenhouses totaling 56,926 plants representing about $500,000,000. (Yes; a half of Billion Dollars!) It was estimated that 51,233,250 gallons were used a day for cultivation in 431 sites total. There has been a 170% increase of grows in the Mad River watershed from 2009 to 2014.
There are currently 41 permitted water diversions in the watershed. There has been no comprehensive water quality monitoring due to lack of funds. There was a discussion of “Team” efforts by different affected agencies. Maybe have the Mad River serve as a “Pilot Project” for permitting and monitoring. This is an opportune time to consider regulatory compliance in the form of a Humboldt County Land Use Ordinance to allow a permitting process to do things in order. Stay tuned.