Shady Cove resolution passes to begin a decision on city water system

“Water has become a highly precious resource. There are some places where a barrel of water costs more than a barrel of oil.” Lloyd Axworthy

“All the water that will ever be is, right now.” National Geographic

Yep, the main topic of the Sept.1 Shady Cove Council study session and meeting was the potential citywide water system. The afternoon session was held jointly with the city’s Water Task Force and was a 2+ hour discussion on the need to pass a resolution of intent to move forward with the development of a project plan regarding the opportunity to bring a water system to the city.

The upshot: the council had to pass such a resolution as a psychological/political move so funders will know they are serious. This isn’t the first time the city has spoken to funders regarding such a system and they are a bit gun shy as previous efforts have died in the water – as it were. So; no resolution – no point in pursuing the idea any further and it would die yet another watery death.

Now, for those interested in the discussion which led to the inevitable decision to pass Resolution 11-18: read on.

With the aid of Brian Murphy from Kennedy/Jenks Consultants (new engineering firm working on the project) several issues were discussed. First Mayor Ron Holthusen gave a brief history of the project to date and advised that from here there are 3 steps that must be taken in order to possibly get funding:
1. Decide if SCWW is viable enough to incorporate
2. Create rate structure analysis (will require hiring an expert)
3. Feasibility study – need to do pre-design first

Murphy elaborated on these and other issues starting with SCWW. Though the price has dropped, there’s a reason; less is being offered (i.e. the Pall Unit and storage building are off the table. What is for sale: intake with fish screen (which is too small for the final system), pump stations; pipe and a 500,000 gallon clear well storage unit (1.5 mil gal will eventually be needed). Murphy feels these few components aren’t worth the current 1.6 million asking price and feels Option 1 (build a system from scratch) is the way to go.

But wait – the Task Force recommended Option 2. Art Sterling spoke on behalf of the Force advising yes, they did recommend Opt. 1 – but with several considerations. Above all the Force wants the city to pursue a system now while the opportunity is at its best and isn’t married to either option. If new evidence proves Opt. 2 a poor option, they support going to Opt. 1.

Other issues Murphy discussed: with either option the city may need a new National Marine Fisheries Service study/approval of the intake fish screening. This approval could take up to 2 years. There is a possibility the city could drill down and take water from below the river out of river rock to avoid screening and NMF approval. This would only work if the river bottom is gravels vs. basalt. Jane Hagan did some speedy research between meetings and advised per folks who had worked on the sewer system the Rogue bottom is basalt all the way.

The other timely issue is that of working in conjunction with the Highway 62 improvement project. If a water system is to go in – it must be “shovel ready” by the time the highway project begins so ODOT can dig the ditch and pipe can go in before the paving, sidewalks etc. Murphy is optimistic if the resolution passes immediately this goal could be achieved.

The resolution (which included 10 “whereases” i.e. Shady Cove is the largest city without a system, sits on fractured aquifer which provides limited storage, wells going dry earlier in season, quality concern with many citizens) did pass 5/0 during the evening meeting, after assurance by Admin Danise Brakeman to Councilor Leith Hayes that no money above the currently allotted 10K could be spent on the project without further council approval.

Now all that’s left to do in pursuit of water is: pre-design, SCWW decision, rate structure creation, feasibility study, vote (possibly Nov. ’12), if vote is yes then; design and build.

In other news: Councilor Hayes announced he will no longer report on Business and Tourism due to embarrassment over how business and event planners were treated during the August 19 meeting. Additionally he will no longer report to council on Planning Commission meetings without speaking with his personal attorney.
Last but most certainly not least: the deadline for planning commission applications has been extended to October 14. With so much change on the city’s horizon council urges anyone interested to please submit an application as soon as possible, so they can lend a guiding hand to the city’s new direction.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent


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