George Boardman: And we’re supposed trust them on the Centennial Dam? |

George Boardman: And we’re supposed trust them on the Centennial Dam?

Observations from the center stripe: Hygiene edition

A SURVEY of 80,000 California residents by UCLA medical researchers found that 27 percent of adults 25-45 who have never been to a dentist didn’t have any sex during the previous year … A FLORIDA state appeals court ruled that a real friend counts for more than a Facebook friend when determining if a judge has a conflict of interest … ONE OF those dicey internet surveys claims Chick fil A is the most hated food in California. That’s hard to believe since the chain has less than 45 stores in the state ... OH, OH: The craft beers doing the best these days are the ones that are owned all or in part by big beer guys like Budweiser and MillerCoors …

Officials of Nevada Irrigation District have been rolling out some impressive statistics and scary scenarios to make the case that we need to build the Centennial Dam, but I’m inclined to cast a skeptical gaze on those claims after the most recent episode of our version of “Reefer Madness.”

The episode starred the top guy at NID, General Manager Rem Scherzinger, during his appearance before the community advisory group on marijuana regulation. The picture he painted was a scary one indeed.

For starters, he said homeowners who want to grow their allotment of six marijuana plants indoors would need a separate water connection to prevent back flow that could contaminate NID’s water supply. The cost: $15,000 to $50,000 per household.

Then Scherzinger told the panel NID would have to pump additional water for the equivalent of 2,000 new homes if 10 percent of the county’s homeowners decided to grow those six pot plants. The GM said a state estimate that each plant needs 6 to 15 gallon of water a day was the basis for NID’s projection.

So there you have it: The state got its numbers from a bunch of pot growers, and NID bought it. These are the people we are supposed to believe when it comes to the Centennial Dam.

The push back — or was it back flow? — was almost immediate. The Union cartoonist RL Crabb was quick off the mark with “Back Flow,” a Rube Goldberg-like contraption that used a BS filter and Logic Inhibitor to pour substantial amounts of money into NID’s coffers. People took to The Union, Facebook and other outlets to claim that a simple part available at any hardware store could fix the back flow problem, which only becomes an issue when water mains lose pressure.

High Times, the Bible of the pot industry, called Scherzinger’s remarks an example of how “obstructionist authorities who don’t like the idea of legal weed have had almost a year to cook up ways to deter citizens from exercising their new found rights.”

The magazine pointed out that nobody has produced evidence that home grows pollute local water supplies, and that 6 to 15 gallons of water per indoor pot plant would create a “biblical flood that would drown most hobbyists’ indoor plants in a matter of days.”

Scherzinger sought to clarify his remarks eight days later, stating that a separate water connection would only be needed by commercial growers, not residents who want to grow their six plants. He said he had no chance at the Aug. 8 meeting to clarify his statement. Really?

But Scherzinger didn’t back down from his estimate of 6 to 15 gallons of water per day per plant, citing conversations with various state agencies, including the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and a study done two years ago entitled “Impacts of Surface Water Diversions for Marijuana Cultivation on Aquatic Habitat in Four Northwestern California Watersheds.”

That study sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Whether it’s relevant to Ma and Pa Homeowner is another question. The study looked at the diversion of water in areas known for their illegal grows. Researchers used high-resolution aerial imagery to estimate the number of marijuana plants being cultivated in four watersheds.

“Low-altitude aircraft flights and search warrants executed with law enforcement at cultivation sites in the region helped to validate assumptions used in aerial imagery interpretation,” the researchers reported.

Of course, these were just the plants they were able to identify with their aerial imagery. In any case, they concluded that illegal grows were diverting 23 percent of the water flow to their crops, endangering various species. How this relates to my kitchen water faucet is beyond me.

Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, told The Union the 6-gallon figure came from a white paper issued by an old growers association, and suggested that amount of water “is pretty exaggerated” for indoor plants.

Allen said the 15-gallon number came from Tim Blake, founder of the Emerald Cup, who told a newspaper large, tree-size plants need 15 gallons a day. (I’m guessing most garages won’t accommodate a tree-size plant.)

So there you have it: The state got its numbers from a bunch of pot growers, and NID bought it. These are the people we are supposed to believe when it comes to the Centennial Dam.

CORRECTION: I wrote last week that the president of Google cut short a family vacation in Africa to return to California to fire an employee. The CEO had completed a business trip to Africa and cut short a family vacation in California.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at

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