To curtail illegal cannabis grows, water trucks aren't allowed on these Siskiyou roads

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
A water truck makes its way between lines of protesters on A-12 in Montague on Aug. 22, 2020, where neighbors picketed against the pumping and selling of local water to irrigate illegal marijuana grows in Siskiyou County.

In an attempt to curtail the transport of water to irrigate illegal cannabis grows, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors today approved an urgency ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor to drive a water truck on certain Siskiyou County roads and highways frequented by such traffic.

Any truck that carries more than 100 gallons of water will be prohibited from traveling on specific roads in both the Butte Valley and Big Springs areas where such activity is rampant, effective immediately. 

The penalty is a $100 fine and the ordinance may be enforced by any peace officer.

More:Dry wells, angry neighbors: Big Springs residents protest water trucking for illegal marijuana grows

The ordinance was passed by a vote of 4-1, with District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff voting no.

Kobseff said he voted like he did not because the issue isn’t urgent, but because he didn’t agree with the process the board is using to prevent such behavior.

Roads where water trucks are now prohibited were approved in a separate resolution, and include the following: Picard Road, Matthews Road, Redrock Road. Meiss Lake-Sam's Neck Road, Richardson Road. Meiss Lake Road (beginning with intersection of Cook-Campbell Road andb continuing west), Dorris Tecnor Road (beginning at the intersection of Sheep Mtn Road then south), Sheep Mountain Road, County Road A-12 (east of Big Springs Road between Big Springs Road and Highway 97), Big Springs Road, and Harry Cash Road.

The county may issue special permits, but they will not be available for cannabis cultivation, said Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus. The ordinance does not apply to emergency vehicles.

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The supervisors decided not to impose a fee for administrative permits since they don’t wish to curtail legitimate agriculture.

The ordinance is the county’s latest attempt to stop the pumping of water from privately owned agricultural wells to be used to water illegal cannabis grows. In August of 2020, the supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance that made it a public nuisance to pump water for illegal uses, although it proved to be difficult to enforce.

In the 2020 ordinance, the county estimated that three million gallons of water may be used each day during the growing season to irrigate illegal cannabis grows.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water a day for things like flushing the toilet and taking a shower. If this is accurate, marijuana grows in Siskiyou County may be using as much water as an 82-year-old person does their lifetime every day of the growing season.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.