Water is undoubtedly the most crucial resource issue related to rural residential health and quality of life. Diverting and/or pumping water from springs, creeks, and rivers during the summer months reduces streamflows and increases water temperatures. This contributes to blue-green algae blooms in our rivers, affects the quality of water for human and animal consumption, and threatens the survival of endangered salmon, steelhead, and other aquatic life. Anytime you are taking water from a seasonal or year-round waterway such as a creek, stream, or river you are creating a water diversion.


  • Every spring, inspect your entire water system for leaks and repair leaky faucets and connectors, all the collective drips add up!
  • Install proper stream crossings, if applicable. Reduce erosion by installing proper stream crossings, maintaining waterbars, and keeping culverts clear, especially during heavy rains. Slow down water runoff and catch sediment where muddy water leaves the road by building simple check dams out of rocks, logs, brush, etc.
  • Install float valves on all tanks to keep water from overflowing onto the ground.
  • Be sure that all creek, stream, and river diversions and pump-intakes have appropriately-sized fish screens to prevent killing juvenile fish.” For details on this, see Sanctuary Forests’ Water Storage Guide. 
  • Reduce water use by installing multi-cycle water timers and drip irrigation systems. By watering for short durations, 2-5 minutes 2-4 x a day, you can keep soil moist without wasting water or leaching nutrients.
  • If hand watering, water during the evening or early morning hours. Watering while it’s still cool outside helps to reduce evaporation.
  • Mulch plants and all cultivated areas, even your pots! Drip lines and emitters go under the mulch.
  • If the ground between and around your cultivated areas is disturbed or lacks vegetation, seed and mulch these areas as well. Vegetation around cultivated areas helps with overall water retention as well as temperature reduction.
  • Cannabis is a xeric or drought tolerant plant. Studies suggest that letting plants regularly dry out, along with water-sparing in general, especially during last the last few weeks of flowering, may increase potency.
  • Cover pots/containers on the south and west sides with burlap or another suitable material to keep containers cool.
  • Be sure to not overwater your garden! Overwatering not only wastes water but is also a contributor to diseases such as root rot, root aphids, white flies, fungus gnats, etc.
  • Signs of overwatering-
    • Your soil doesn’t dry out between watering.
    • Water is running out of the bottom of potted plants (use saucers to collect excess water and give root balls the time they need to absorb it).
    • The pathway between beds or plantings is wet or develops puddles.
  • Collect and store water during the rainy season in tanks, bladders, or engineered ponds.

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  • You can avoid the use of groundwater by installing rainwater catchment systems and tanks.