SC water ordinance will prevent new wells

About 35 unhappy residents, mostly from Deer Park Estates, descended on the May 21 Shady Cove Water District meeting to ask questions about the $6 fee the district will begin charging July 1. Although the district’s general legal counsel Bill Mansfield was present, few questions were answered. Instead, the people got a promise from President Jim Collier that he would provide answers in writing at the next meeting.

The questions that were answered by Collier assured residents that
board members would not receive salaries because they are volunteers
and that only legal counsel will get paid. Collier also said he could
not imagine why members of the Deer Park Water Association would have
to pay the $6 fee. After the meeting, people congregating in the
parking lot said they had Collier’s statement about the fee on tape.
   

A
first reading of Ordinance 8-2 took place that stipulates requirements
of permits for specified water related activities. Section 2 reads that
the installation of new wells will be prohibited in the district when
the ordinance takes place. Collier said it is at least 40 days before
this will take effect and any permits acquired before then will be
honored. Questions from the audience included asking what Oregon
statute gives the water district the right to prohibit the drilling of
wells.
   
The ordinance also states that work done on wells and
water lines by non-owners will require permits. Owners doing the work
themselves will not need permits.
   
The amount of the fee is
not yet decided but Collier said the idea is not to generate revenue
but to acquire knowledge of water related activities in the district.
The amount would probably be in the range of $5, he added.
   
A
guest opinion by Collier, published September 6, 2002, was discussed
after an audience member brought it up. Collier was challenged because
his opinion in 2002 was negative about the formation of a water
district that would get limitless access to funds from taxes. Collier
said what he wrote then was as President of the Shady Cove Taxpayers
Association and did not fully represent what he was thinking then or
today. His opinion also generated discussion of why mobile home parks
are excluded from the district.
   
Discussions throughout the
meeting were sprinkled with loud comments such as "Would you like to
pay for something you don’t get" and "Taxation without Representation."
One woman threatened that dissolution of the water board will be on the
November ballot. Collier replied there is not enough time. Audience
members firmly stated it will be done.
   
Collier recently
learned that water stored behind Lost Creek Dam actually belongs to the
State of Oregon and not the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said he
has buyers for water the district is in the process of obtaining.. At
that point, someone challenged Collier whether the district has more
authority than the state.  
   
A list of ten questions was
presented to the board that asked about the district charter, state
laws, enforcement of uncollected fees, accounting of expenses and more.
The answers will be available in writing at the next meeting, said
Collier.
   
The water district now has official office hours.
The days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
at the Old Masonic Hall at the corner of Highway 62 and Cleveland.
District phone number is 1-541-499-5703.
   
The next meeting is June 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Upper Rogue Community Center to accommodate a larger audience.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent   
             

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