NID fears pot grows could make water conservation more challenging | TheUnion.com

NID fears pot grows could make water conservation more challenging

The Nevada Irrigation District on Tuesday said it may have to re-work its master plan, which projects NID's water needs until 2023, to account for water usage associated with legal marijuana grows.

Because California's new cannabis regulations allow for the cultivation of up to six plants indoors, NID customers not associated with agricultural water use could potentially be using additional water, the district said.

NID, which follows conservation mandates levied by the state, also said Tuesday it fears a potential uptick in cannabis cultivation could pose challenges in meeting California's requirements.

"The state has legalized (cannabis) but they haven't changed the targets for water usage," said Operations Manager Chip Close.

Jonathan Collier, a member of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance's executive committee, told NID staff Tuesday it's important to create local regulations that allow growers to operate successfully in the legal market.

He agreed with Close, who said illegal grows "will remain a threat to the district's watershed, water supply and general public health and safety."

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But in assessing NID's water needs associated with California's new marijuana regulations, Collier said it's important to remember that cannabis has been cultivated in Nevada County for decades.

"This is not something that's new and emerging," he said. "A lot of this water use is already happening."

As Nevada County continues the process of developing a new marijuana ordinance, NID hopes to provide input in an effort to help facilitate a successful regulatory framework, district staff said during Tuesday's water and hydroelectric operations committee meeting.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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