Relief is on the way for residents that depend on the Northridge Water Company for household water. Northridge system operator, Norman Shaw, said James Plummer, owner of the water system, is having the 30,000 gallon holding tank and lines filled with 16 truckloads of potable water.
Since September 11, many of the four dozen or so households on the water system have had to either boil or buy drinking water after receiving a “boil-water” notice from Northridge. After the pressure became low in the wells, Shaw said the state required the water company to send out notification to their customers, even though the water tested free of contamination on September 2.
Jackson Bowers, Jackson County Environmental Health Division manager, said, “The letter was a precaution for residents to be safe from contaminants.” Bowers said when there is no positive pressure in wells, “there is the potential for something to get sucked in. That triggers a boil-water notice.”
When the notice was first sent out on September 11, the City of Shady Cove received a half-dozen calls from concerned residents but because Shady Cove does not have a municipal water system, the city had no jurisdiction, according to Gretchen Meloth, Administrative Assistant at city hall.
Shady Cove is served by about 1,000 wells. At this time of year many wells go dry but citizens appear more concerned this year than previously as their wells began losing water earlier in the summer than usual. With only three gallons-a-minute, Nat Ra, a resident on Walnut Lane, had a 2,000 gallon storage tank installed this year on his property. On the same street, however, his daughter did not fare as well. Her well went completely dry and she now has water trucked in.
Recently, patients of Providence Medical Center on Erickson St. learned to their dismay the clinic will relocate to Eagle Point. The clinic needed more room but one factor in the decision to leave Shady Cove was the lack of water.
Whose fault is it? Shaw feels the problem for Northridge was caused by the county and the state. “They should not be issuing permits for new wells at this time of year,” Shaw said. Four new wells were recently drilled on Rogue Air Drive, close to the three wells used by Northridge. Within six weeks, the three wells were sucked dry and Northridge was out of water.
Shaw does not understand why the city allows new houses to be built when there is no community-wide water system. It is the county that actually issues the building permit, according to Shady Cove City Administrator, Elise Smurzynski. If the property is properly zoned, the city issues a land-use approval then sends it to the county.
To keep Northridge users in water will cost $600 a day, figures Shaw, who estimates 150 to 200 gallons a household, per day. Each truckload of water is $1050. Residents will most likely see their water bills go up.
Many in this parched city of 2,850 population feel until the Shady Cove Water District is dissolved, other entities or private investors will not be able to bring water to the city. On September 23, the Shady Cove Water District board filed a response with the Jackson County Clerk for the dissolution petition of the water district, according to Philip Keith, President of the district.
At the last Shady Cove City Council meeting, the council members voted unanimously to send a resolution to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners encouraging that board to expedite the dissolution of the water district. Mayor Ron Holthusen says, “I am in support of moving forward for the majority of citizens that voted to disband the water district.”
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent