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No matter where you live, you’ve likely experienced some pretty weird weather phenomena. From Seattle to New York City, intense heat waves have put power grids in overdrive, flash floods in countries like Germany and as close as US states like Utah and New Jersey have washed away cars and houses, while the entire west coast once again begins a fire season threatening historic burns.

In California, a severe, years-long drought has compounded the woes of recently ramped up fire seasons. These days, the water scarcity has inspired a new segment of crime – water theft. And while most households and farmers in remote parts of the state are making due with reduced water usage mandated by local governments, unregulated cannabis growers across the state have been skirting the rules in increasingly brazen ways.

According to a lengthy report from Cal Matters reporter Julie Cart, illicit cannabis cultivators from the Emerald Triangle to the deserts of Southern California have turned water theft into a major issue. For decades, forest and wildlife managers in places like Humboldt, Mendocino and Sonoma counties in Northern California routinely complained about growers siphoning water from local rivers. Now, with drought conditions lasting years on end and no rainfall in sight, water bandits are moving past rivers and streams to illegally tap fire hydrants, drilling unauthorized wells, and staging elaborate break-ins at remote water filling stations.

“Any way that you can imagine that somebody is going to grab water, they’re doing it,” Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall told Cal Matters. “For goodness sakes, everybody knows what is going on.”

Of course, cannabis is legal in California, and many growers across the state cultivate the plant with water obtained through legal means just like their counterparts growing cut flowers, alfalfa sprouts, or almonds. But because the Golden State is also home to the world’s largest concentration of illicit pot grows, supplying much of the US and international black market. To produce those millions of pounds of pot, growers construct clandestine warehouses, greenhouses, and outdoor plots, typically tucked away in remote deserts, mountain towns, or industrial inner cities. At all of those locations, water can be hard to come by.

“Most Californians would be shocked and disappointed at the amount of water these unlicensed, illegal grows are using, especially as California suffers from a drought,” Curt Fallin, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s associate special agent in charge, said in a news release last month. “By our calculation, the illegal grows in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties require an astounding 5.4 million gallons of water a day, every day.”

Now, to be fair, during that same press conference, special agent Fallin made headlines by claiming that his team had helped execute an illegal grow raid that netted more than one billion dollars worth of weed – a number that has been criticized as a gross exaggeration. Still, if the water used by unregulated pot grows is anywhere close to Fallin’s 5.4 million gallons per day in Southern California alone, the situation is exponentially worse on a statewide level.

In Antelope Valley, where Fallin and his team executed the supposed billion dollar bust in July, water authorities say that thefts are routinely assaulting local infrastructure in search of water. Authorities said they used to see an average of two water main breakages per year, but in the past 365 days they have seen 12. At $10,000 per repair, those water mains have become a major issue for the rural counties.

“We have no water to spare and our farmers are making do with less,” Charles Bostwick, an assistant field deputy for the county supervisor in Antelope Valley told Cal Matters. “We never had water thefts here (in the Antelope Valley) two years ago. A homeless guy climbing over the fence of a trailer park and filling his five-gallon jug in the laundry room — that was our water theft.”

From Southern California up to the Northern portion of the state, municipalities are locking up and removing fire hydrants to take away targets for thieves. In Nevada County, in the mountains northeast of Sacramento, the North San Juan Fire Protection District Station was burglarized for its water supply in 2014, causing a significant hindrance to local firefighters.

“I came to the station one morning and there was a big wet spot,” Boyd Johnson, the district’s former battalion chief said. “We share that water with CalFire, and, obviously, water was critical to firefighting.”

As fire season and drought conditions continue to compound year after year, officials across California have pushed to create more severe penalties for water theft. Since cannabis was legalized statewide in 2016, enforcement efforts have shifted to largely civil offenses rather than criminal charges, making it hard for authorities to stop cultivators and their heavy handed water usage.

Because California still supplies so much of the world’s weed, though, it seems as though the only thing that will actually shift the state’s cultivation landscape – and their water use – will be to bring more cultivators into the legal market and make the unregulated industry as small as possible.Until then, look out for more locked fire hydrants across the Golden State.