It’s that time of the year when my wife and I promise one another that next year will be the year for us to purchase an air conditioner for the house. As I wrote this in August, the forecast called for 104 degrees with no relief for a few days. It’s almost unbearable but thank goodness for the fresh, cool water we pull from the ground every day to help us through these peak temperatures in the summer. These hot days drive us to water and we are not alone; the cannabis plants are drinking water and the residents of our county are taking notice.
The hot topic of water consumption by the cannabis industry is causing some in our community to question exactly how much water is consumed by the plants. Recently, our farm was visited by the Deschutes Basin watermaster. He inquired on the use of our water and where we sourced our water. It was a very refreshing conversation to hear the watermaster relay how impressed he was with our plans and those cannabis farms he had visited.
I was shocked to hear that he was forced to visit all the farms in the county because his initial report on water used by cannabis farms was too conservative on water consumption. The residents and county commissioners voiced their concerns that the water used by cannabis farms is reducing the aquifer and they wanted an accurate report.
Yes, our aquifer has been depleting every year for the last 90 years. But for those who believe cannabis farms alone are depleting the aquifer, that’s not true. Every farming practice is on the table for aquifer reduction. Regarding cannabis farming, the watermaster was quick to point out his initial report was inaccurate; the water consumption by cannabis farms is actually lower than previously believed.
My family has had a farm in Deschutes County for 46 years. We grew alfalfa in the past and cannabis today. The number one choice of water application for alfalfa was overhead sprinkler/pivot lines. Today, we utilize a drip system for growing cannabis.
The application of water from overhead is a high usage per acre of water due to evaporation loss and wind drift. As a member of the community with so many residents concerned with cannabis farmers and water usage, why doesn’t anyone cry foul for the high loss of water by overhead water application used for decades? I’m not sure why, but those concerned about cannabis and water usage have now put the entire farming community in the spotlight for water use.
The 100-degree days will continue in the future and it is up to us as cannabis farmers to show a new path of water conservation.
The miracle is in the greens.