Sheriff: Massive grow operation in Tulare County used massive amount of water

By Oscar Pascual |

While many Californians have sacrificed clean cars and green lawns due to the state’s ongoing drought, one alleged outlaw marijuana grow-op decided instead to use an obscene amount of water for illegal crops, according to authorities.

Along with the usual tallies of plants and pounds seized, Tulare County sheriff’s deputies also reported millions of gallons of water was used to irrigate a massive pot grow busted in the South Valley, reports ABC 30.

60 law enforcement officials moved in on the operation Thursday morning to shut down the grow site, eliminating over 12,000 pot plants and taking 30 people into custody.

Deputies found a mammoth 10 acres of marijuana growing in 49 different greenhouses throughout the property. The scale of the operation was so huge, water officials say that the amount used to grow pot is enough to supply a large city neighborhood.

“For the month of April, it would have minimally been over 1.4 million gallons depleting aquifers, depriving our Ag partners of much needed water for use of this illegal marijuana grow site,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux in an interview with ABC 30.

The grow site used an estimated 61,555 gallons of well water each day, enough for more than 150 four-member family homes, the sheriff’s department said. In comparison, an average household in the nearby city of Fresno consumes about 8,000 gallons per month.

“That’s the equivalent of a total monthly use from 231 households here in Fresno,” said Fresno spokesperson Mark Standriff. “That’s an incredible amount of water.”

Despite the immense amount of water found, only 49.5 pounds of fully processed marijuana was seized, sheriff’s officials say.

Photo credit: Flickr.com/conner395