A 19-year-old California man siphoned off 1.5 million gallons of water for his illegal marijuana garden, the Madera County Sheriff's Office said this week.
The man may have to pay more than $18,000 for the water, which authorities said he siphoned off of a subdivision's water tank.
"With wells running dry, it's appalling to learn this much water was stolen during these drought ridden times," Sheriff John Anderson said in a statement.
Deputies discovered 100 mature marijuana plants growing on a hillside in Yosemite Lakes Park, a landscaped community with a lake and golf course in Central California.
Each plant was connected to a drip irrigation system and hose that stretched 1,000 feet to the subdivision's water system, authorities said. The plants were in a garden that stretched more than 40,000 square feet.
Deputies contacted the owner of the property where the plants were growing, and he said they were his, according to the Sheriff's Department. Medical marijuana is allowed in California, but a local law requires growers to keep plants within a 10-foot by 8-foot enclosure. Each plant grown outside could bring a $250 fine.
An investigation is ongoing, but in all, the man could face around $43,000 in fines. The marijuana plants were destroyed.
Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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