ACES Sets the Record Straight – Ashland Canal

In a recent response to Rich Rosenthal’s letter to an Ashland Chronicle reader, ACES questioned his 60 million gallon estimate for annual water seepage in Ashland’s canal.  We were wrong, Councilor Rosenthal was 100% correct.   ACES wants to set the record straight and sincerely apologize for the error.

We do still maintain, however, that 98% of the 60 million gallons could be saved each year by fixing the canal through recoating and reinforcing it, an alternative researched and presented by citizens of Ashland.  This option would cost less than half of the alternative new piping option voted for by Councilors Rosenthal, Jensen and Graham.

We also hope that the Public Works department and some council members will apologize for their use of erroneous statistics and misleading facts in their efforts to pass Public Works’ all new piping alternative.  For example, they use an evaporation rate of 9% when it’s less than 2%, a trivial 0.27% of Ashland’s daily domestic water consumption.  They also claim that 23%, or 1 of every 4 gallons of water, are lost from the canal to seepage and evaporation.  Again, not true.  Based on calculations from Public Works’ own data, the loss is only 14%. 

Public Works has never even presented the lowest priced option of recoating and reinforcing the canal versus replacing it.  Yet, they assigned it an inflated $45,000 per year maintenance cost versus the $12,500 per year for their own piping alternative.  They exaggerate all these numbers to alarm Ashland citizens into supporting their own preferred option. 

However, compare a 2 year long, $3.5 million brand new piping option that will result in hundreds of trees removed and significant damage to private property with a 4-month relining project costing $1.5 million with minimal tree removal or damage.  When viewed in this perspective, and in conjunction with the factual data presented above, the rational choice is repair and reline the canal.

We implore the Mayor and Council to not simply dismiss this lower cost alternative.  When the contractor presented this option at a council meeting, some dismissed the idea entirely, accusing him of just trying to land a contract.  Given Ashland’s financial situation, we can no longer afford this kind of governance and encourage a serious consideration of the alternate proposal made by Ashland citizens.

Ashland Citizens for Economic Sustainability  (ACES)