A possible emergency declaration and contingency plans regarding the City of Weed's water supply are on the agenda for a special city council meeting, scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24.
A possible emergency declaration and contingency plans regarding the City of Weed’s water supply are on the agenda for a special city council meeting, scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24.
The city has been in confidential negotiations with Roseburg Forest Products for five years and has been in mediation with them for the past nine months, but they have failed to reach an agreement on the water supply that comes from Beaughan Springs.
The city’s water supply has been under a 50 year no-fee lease with Roseburg that ends June 29, 2016, according to a press release from Roseburg.
After the lease expires, the city will no longer have legal rights to the water and, without an agreement, cannot legally use the water without potential liabilities and costly litigation with Roseburg, according to Mayor Ken Palfini.
“When it gets to the midnight hour in city terms, we need to put in place what we have to do,” said Palfini.
While Roseburg assures the public and the City that it plans to continue to supply the city’s water, according to Roseburg’s press release, the Council feels that without a deal in place the city must have a plan for its citizens’ water supply.
Without the water supply from the Beaughan Springs at a rate of 2.0 cubic feet per second (cfs), the city will not have sufficient water for its citizens and will have to impose strict watering restrictions, according to the city’s press release.
If solutions cannot be put in place, some parts of the city will not have any water supply at all, while others will have limited water usage, according to the city.
“For nearly 35 years, Roseburg has helped make Weed a great place to live and work – providing jobs, generating tax revenue and donating to local charities,” said Ellen Porter, Roseburg’s Director of Environmental Affairs. “Since the Boles Fire of 2014, Roseburg has played an integral part in the City’s ongoing recovery. We stand ready to continue working constructively with City representatives to find a solution for Weed.”
The city says it has attempted to offer to pay for a lease or to buy the water rights but the details of the negotiations are confidential and cannot be discussed publicly without both sides agreeing to divulge those details.
Technically, Roseburg can’t cut off the water supply because the infrastructure is the city’s, but the city doesn’t want to use water that is not legally theirs, so they will discontinue usage if a deal is not reached, explained Palfini.
Since the lease ends in just four months, the City has decided to meet to discuss emergency actions to meet the city’s water supply needs.
“We can’t just leave our citizens out in the open,” said Palfini. “We have to protect our citizens.”
Contingencies include water restrictions and limitations, water trucks and cases of bottled water to meet the city’s needs, according to the press release documents.
The city says new infrastructure for other water sources will have to be planned and implemented and it will rely on the acquisition of county and state funds.
Details of possible contingency plans will be discussed at the public meeting on Wednesday.