Proposed Cannabis Facility on the Mad River Puts Humboldt’s Drinking Water at Risk

Feb 15, 2018

The Mad River
Credit Jesse Palmer / Flickr

Mercer-Fraser, an engineering company based out of Eureka, is proposing the construction of a 5,000-square-foot cannabis manufacturing facility at their property on the Mad River near Glendale. The site is immediately upstream from Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District’s intake wells, which provide drinking water for 88,000 residents of Humboldt County. If the project is approved, drinking water for 2/3 of Humboldt County’s residents could be impaired. John Friedenbach and Sheri Woo of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District discuss the project and its risks with Larry Glass and Anne Maher of the NEC.

In order to build the facility, Mercer-Fraser has proposed to rezone the site for ‘heavy industrial use’. The Planning Commission approved this proposal in January, and it is now left in the hands of the County Supervisors for final approval, who will be voting on this issue in early March. Rezoning of the property could open it up to more hazardous development in the future, threatening the drinking water for residents of the Eureka, Cutten, Samoa, Manila, Arcata, McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Fieldbrook, and Glendale areas. The facility’s processes will include the use of volatile chemicals including acetone and heptane to create cannabis products, acetone being a known carcinogen. The property lies in the 100-year flood zone, which is especially concerning considering development in flood zones can result in more flooding, erosion,  and habitat degradation, as well as damage to the endangered coho salmon populations that reside in the river.

To learn more, visit the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District website and Humboldt Baykeeper's website. Read the HBMWD appeal to the Planning Commission's decision HERE

To comment on this issue, contact your County Supervisor before they vote on the topic, or attend the meeting in March. The meeting time will be posted on HBMWD's website beforehand.