California farmers are using groundwater to irrigate crops, and the state is now facing a water shortage. The state has been forced to implement a mandatory 25% cut in urban water usage.

The how do geoscience processes affect the availability of groundwater in california is a question that was asked on Quora. This article will answer the question and give you some insight into how it works.

A new report from UC Berkeley’s Cannabis Research Center calls attention to the significant impact cannabis production has on water policy. Specifically, the investigation by UC Berkeley looks at where farmers in California get water for their green crops.

Recreational cannabis legalization in California, which took effect in November 2016, has undoubtedly boosted growing efforts. Because cannabis, like most other plants, cannot survive without water, producers in California are constantly looking for new methods to keep their plants hydrated.

However, because of the state’s arid environment, cannabis growers are often forced to seek water from rivers and streams. Such methods have the potential to endanger the ecosystem where fish and other animals live.

“Wells dug near streams in upland watersheds have the potential to induce fast streamflow depletion, comparable to direct surface water diversions,” said Ted Grantham, co-author of the research and co-director of the Cannabis Research Center.

The usage of water in 11 California counties known for producing the most cannabis was investigated. “Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Monterey, Nevada, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma, Trinity, and Yolo” are the counties in question.

The researchers examined state data in order to conduct their study. They found that cannabis farms mostly rely on groundwater wells for their irrigation requirements (rather than natural streams). Pumped groundwater, however, may have a detrimental effect on animals. 

“Because most cannabis farms are outside of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)-regulated groundwater basins, well usage poses a significant, though mostly uncontrolled, danger to streams in the region,” Grantham said.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is a federal law that regulates the management of groundwater resources (SGMA)

The SGMA has been striving to preserve groundwater resources for a long time since it was established in 2014. The historic passing of the SGMA has been credited with averting statewide groundwater depletion and protecting water quality. Agriculture, fish, people, and different kinds of animals all benefit from the Act, which also acts as a protective supply shelter.

The SGMA is made up of a three-bill legislative package—AB 1739 (Dickinson), SB 1168 (Pavley), and SB 1319 (Pavley)—that is followed by state regulations. Former Governor Jerry Brown said after its passage in 2014 that “groundwater management in California is best done locally.”

Local governments are obliged to create groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) for both high and medium-priority basins, according to the SGMA’s legislative wording. The main goal of a GSA is to create and implement groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) in order to reduce overdraft and avoid undesirable outcomes during a 20-year timeframe. 


What Threatens Water Sources Does Cannabis Cultivation Pose?

Previous research, such as this one, has shown that cannabis growing poses a danger to natural water supplies. The populations of many aquatic animals may be jeopardized if they are cultivated in watersheds.

Thankfully, the cannabis industry’s infamous image has prompted a paradigm change in water policy at the state and county levels. As a way of keeping current with the newly regulated market, policymakers and regulators are progressively amending policies.

The unfortunate reality is that cannabis farms have the difficulty of establishing sufficient water storage infrastructure, which applies to both legal and illicit agricultural locations. In California, where the rough agricultural landscape is frequently situated in isolated locations, water storage infrastructure problems are particularly evident.

A new study from UC Berkeley explains the dangers of cannabis irrigation. Wells near natural streams, for example, may catch subsurface flows that would otherwise serve as a major water supply for other streams if not collected by farmers.

Researchers have discovered that using a water well is a common practice among cannabis farms throughout the state. 

According to a UC Berkeley research on cannabis farm irrigation, groundwater well usage seems to exceed 75% among cannabis plantations with growing licenses in nine of the 11 most populous cannabis production counties. 

Furthermore, the researchers discovered that more than a quarter of water well-using agricultural hotspots in 8 of the 11 top cannabis-growing counties are located outside of groundwater basins, due to state groundwater usage restrictions. 

Another finding of this study is that farms producing cannabis on bigger plots of land seem to draw more groundwater for irrigation. Farms in high-rainfall regions and/or with on-site streams, on the other hand, are less reliant on wells.

It’s worth noting that the research only looked at water-source data from cannabis growers who have obtained regulatory approval to cultivate the high-demand crop.

According to the research, 60 percent of uncontrolled cannabis farms in Northern California, which are scattered throughout Humboldt and Mendocino counties, are more likely to use groundwater wells if they follow the same growth patterns as the licensed sector.

“Our findings indicate that proactive measures be made to address groundwater usage in California cannabis laws, as well as further research into the impacts of groundwater use on streamflow, particularly outside of major groundwater basins,” the study authors stated.

The study, titled “Cannabis farms in California depend on wells outside of controlled groundwater basins,” was authored by Christopher Dillis, Van Butsic, Jennifer Carah, Samuel C. Zipper, and Grantham and published in Environmental Research Communications.


The disadvantages of groundwater is a topic that has been brought up recently in California. Farmers may be using groundwater, which could impact the streams and the water quality in the state.

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