Laytonville Water Operator Concerned Phase III of Cannabis Cultivation Could Exacerbate County’s Water Shortage

Welcome to our letters to the editor/opinion section. To submit yours for consideration, please send to Please consider including an image to be used–either a photograph of you or something applicable to the letter. However, an image is not necessary for publication. Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of MendoFever.

Redwood Valley’s water supply, Lake Mendocino, during the last drought, 2013. [Picture provided by Evan Johnson]

To Mendocino Board of Supervisors,                                                                                   

(and whom ever may listen)

I write this letter to you to as a resource of information that addresses our current water crisis before any progress with Phase III should be considered.

  For those who don’t know me/us, My family and I have been a residents of Laytonville for 15 yrs and we have a five year old daughter.  We started a small landscaping outfit called From the Ground Up to make ends meet in 2006 and currently maintain a profile of over 100 clients.  As the landscaping took hold I began to shift focus to irrigation, pump systems, wells, interior plumbing, point of use treatment systems, pretty much anything to do with water.  Late 2017 I was hired part time at the Laytonville County Water District and since have obtained both my T2 and D2 CA state licenses. 

I do not want to come to the table with the same arguments, although I do share some of the same concerns regarding our heritage growers, county infrastructure, and land use.  My argument is based on current residential well sounding and recharge rate data.  

In Laytonville, historically we receive on average around 59 inches of rain in a six month period.  To Date 28” of rain has fallen.  This is even more concerning if the previous seasons numbers are factored in.  Before this year,  a low rain year would have usually recharged the ground water in our valley, especially at residential well depth (30-100ft).   This is unfortunately no longer true.  I have returned to write this after my third call this week for wells that can’t keep up with the normal household demand.  100-300 gallons a day is not a large ask typically for any well with a depth of 30 or more feet in and around the valley. 

I was already concerned but after seeing the actual data, and being the specialist tracking it I am truly in disbelief.  I need to mention, I would be looking at the same data, no matter what proposed increase in usage to our counties water supply.  There are a number of clients I serve that would be greatly effected by the increase of water drafted from their depth or deeper. Most are older and have a fixed income, they will not be able to afford a new source and property value will fall. 

In this valley and in most valleys we all share the “cone of influence.”  At this moment, We need to shift how we think of water to one of a non-renewable resource until the time this precipitation trend reverses.  Phase III will directly influence the health and well being of every individual in the County.  I ask that we all look at Lake Mendocino,  anywhere on the Eel River,  or any of our seasonal streams that are dry and cracked in April.  Please conserve and preserve the little water we have available in this county,  we already promise too much away.

Sincerely yours,

Jason Augustyniak and family

Categories: Cannabis, Environment, News, Op-Ed

Leave a Reply