Marijuana growers blamed for water theft as drought grips western US | Water

The extreme and prolonged drought in the American West prompts water thieves to tap into the scarce supplies of others. More than 12 bil...


The extreme and prolonged drought in the American West prompts water thieves to tap into the scarce supplies of others.

More than 12 billion gallons of water have been stolen in California over the past eight years, state officials say, but the problem has been further exacerbated by the ongoing drought and recent scorching heat waves in early summer.

A significant amount of recent water theft has been blamed by authorities on the illegal cultivation of cannabis in parts of the state.

“Water theft has never been more serious,” John Nores, head of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET), told CNN.

While the term “water theft” has been disputed by some experts and activists, state officials told the news channel that examples of recent events involved “tapping into mouths of water. fire, rivers and even small family houses and farms ”.

They claim that much of the prohibited use comes from people who illegally cultivate marijuana.

Nores said the issue has impacted legitimate farmers, Native American tribes and other small communities in California.

It also affected the sources of drinking water. Last spring, 300 households saw their water supply threatened when water valves were improperly closed, according to the Desert sun newspaper that covers the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area in southeast Los Angeles.

According to the publication, 125 Californians have reported thefts to state authorities so far this year, doubling the number of reports made a decade ago, with pressurized water supplies up and down the state. and throughout the western region.

In recent times, the Sun reported, people in water tankers have backed up to rivers and lakes and pumped free water not only for their own use, but to sell it to an underground market.

Others, under cover of darkness, plug into city fire hydrants and refuel. Some also steal water from homes, farms and private wells.

“As the state enters another potential drought emergency, we need to make sure this new activity does not further exacerbate the water scarcity,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told CNN.

While a recent A Brookings Institution article shows this has been an issue outside of California, in connection with cannabis cultivation in Oregon and Colorado, older articles from the research group also explain why the term has been found to be controversial.

In 2017, the Brookings Institution noted that news organizations were increasingly highlighting water theft as a problem, but added that “water experts, water-focused non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments and communities do not agree on the existence of water theft ”.

Much of the dispute stems from competing beliefs that water is a basic human right that should be accessible, and the idea that it should be priced for its sustainability and efficient use, according to the think tank.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Marijuana growers blamed for water theft as drought grips western US | Water
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