Friday, April 22, 2016

City Council, April 25th - Water Rights

Council meets on Monday and there's no new transportation item on the agenda. So let's start with a "hmm..." that is outside our interests here but yet seems important.

Salem's claim to water from the Willamette River
Council will consider whether to
execute a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the City of Hillsboro for the sale of 56 cubic feet per second of the City of Salem's Willamette River water right.
The Staff Report says "go ahead" and claims that
In addition to the 200 cfs water right on the Willamette River, the City holds a total of 239 cfs in water rights on the North Santiam River. The most recent long-term water demand forecast indicates that for the next 100 years or more, the water rights on the North Santiam River alone will be sufficient to meet the water needs of City customers. [italics added]

Remember that report on water flows, snowpack, and ways our drinking water will be impacted by climate change from a few years back?

Creeks feeding the Santiam and Willamette will be low in 2040!
The Staff Report cites no evidence for the claim about the North Santiam's adequacy for the next 100 years.

At the very least, we should see the report and evidence for this claim.

More than this, our drought last year and the prospect of more drought gives us strong reasons to doubt the claim.

Selling off water rights like this probably needs a whole lot more scrutiny. Maybe it's just a fine idea, but the Staff Report seems awfully cavalier about it, especially about our North Santiam supply. (I really don't want to have to drink water from the Willamette.)

Revised Concept Map for Fairview Park, February 2016
Not surprisingly, there are delays on the purchase of the parcel for the new park out at Fairview, and on the agenda is an extension to the purchase agreement.

The Hearing on the CIP was kept open to receive more public comment (see previous round here), and without any further changes, Council looks to adopt it.

Since we are talking about water, it is at least a little interesting that the prospect of redeveloping the old mushroom plant out on Cordon Road north of State Street, is getting an extension for water and sewer, from 2018 to 2020. I'm not sure the exact details are important here, but here's what's involved:
  • A new pump station and 6 inch force sewer line
  • A 24 inch and 12 inch set of water mains

1 comment:

Susann Kaltwasser said...

The old Pictsweet mushroom plant on State and Cordon is located in my neighborhood association boundary (ELNA). It is going to be a difficult property to develop when a buyer finally comes forward to take on the task. As of now the family that owns the property lives in Tennessee and has no intention to be the developer. The plan that was drawn up when the property was annexed about 5 years ago can be changed at any time now as it has been on the books for the required amount of time.

The main issue with this property is the lack of a water source. While it was being used for the mushroom plant they used a well that actually was not for drinking. Drinking water came from the fire station across the street because the well might have had contaminants.

What is prompting this action is the fact that two adjacent properties that were originally supposed to get their water from the new development, had to be annexed because their wells were found to be contaminated. They are now on City water.

So, the action is to clarify that the new water system will conform to the existing Water Master Plan and that the source of any City water will need to come from Dean Street. This is a long ways away, but this development can't tap into the East Suburban Water District system which is adjacent, because it is privately owned and serves only county residents. In the original UGA permit I think that the actual source of City water was not clarified.

The cost to bring City water to this property to serve the large development that is proposed will be expensive.

The issue that is concerning neighbors is actually the drainage from this property. Since it was used for agriculture for decades we know that insecticides and other chemicals were used. That contamination is likely still in the area and a creek runs through this property. Neighbors worry that it might be leaching into the creek. They also worry that digging on the property could also disturb the contamination and it will also go into the creek.

As of now there are no plans that I know of to do anything in the area. And staff told me no one has made any inquiries. However, as the economy improves and pressure for more low income housing increases, maybe we will see something happen in the next few years. We will need to watch this area closely.