Garberville —Pot growers are hauling water early this year, as regional tributaries to the Eel River are drying up ahead of schedule; that is, a more or less taken for granted schedule, established by growers from experience with the weather patterns of recent years.
The river intake pump is out and the City of Garberville is being told to conserve. Meanwhile, water has to be hauled, and all available water trucks — many of which went into service over the weekend when Miller Creek ran dry and caught some growers unprepared without full emergency tanks.
Having just arrived in Southern Humboldt, this reporter was already somewhat prepared for the water crisis because I hitched a ride from Willits to Garberville with a Wildlife biologist stationed in Hopland and living in Eureka. The biologist, who asked to go unnamed, said the pot growers were pumping the tributaries to the Russian River too dry already this year. Asked what he thought the problem was, he said, “There’s getting to be too many growers. Every year there’s more. I don’t know if the creeks can take it.”
A local grower told this reporter that usually he doesn’t have to switch from his well to his storage tanks until after the Burning Man festival which is traditionally in late August. “The problem,” he said, “is there are now so many people here from the city who do not understand water conservation. Every day I hear water pumps come on all around me, up and down the drainage, at the hottest part of the day — late afternoon, like they were living in the city!”
My source said his well ran out on Thursday, and even after it recovered it was running cloudy water, and soon ran dry again. A long-time homesteader from the 70s, he was prepared with full tanks and collection buckets under his roof full of condensation runoff. Some of his neighbors weren’t so well prepared, and had to start ordering water tankers from Garberville. This led to what he called The Emergency Water Summit, wherein he called in a bunch of neighbors and schooled them on the basics of conservation.
Tanker Trucks from Pura Vita, H202GO, and Wilcox’s of Whitethorn were running all weekend, and it appears the prices are going up. In recent years, a water load of about 2,000 gallons cost between $350 and $500; but one grower I spoke with paid $600 for 1,600 gallons over the weekend.
Another problem with newer growers, my source said: “They plant directly in this clay-based soil. Sure, they dig out a hole and add lots of nice potting soil, but the natural clay soil just wicks water right out of the potting soil.”
It seems there are lots of tricks to conserving water and growing weed, but there also seems to be a population explosion of new amateur growers from urban lifestyles, and they practice the wasteful, take it for granted, lavish splurging of water that urban denizens are used to, such as watering with the hose full-stream, rushing from pot to pot, splashing water every where in the heat of the day and draining the wells and creeks.