Citizens Write to the City Council about Piping the Canal Project

To the Ashland City Council, Mayor and Citizens,

We know that the Council and Mayor are asked to address myriad issues; time and resources are precious and the easiest path is to rely on City Staff to provide the ‘facts’ needed to decide wisely. The Council may also realize that Ashland Citizens do not normally band together to oppose intelligent, rational and cost effective uses of our finite resources.

With regards to the Ashland TID Canal Project, I think we can all agree upon the facts that water leakage must be stopped, water contaminants must be addressed and cost to the Public must be minimalized. Both the City Public Works proposal to pipe the entire 2-plus miles and the Citizens Alternative to repair and maintain the canal will eliminate the  water loss caused by the years of neglecting to maintain the canal. We can also agree that neither proposal will eliminate pollutants carried by TID water that ultimately are added to Ashland Creek. Contamination starts at the mountain source of the water and builds over miles of open channel until it reaches our City border and ‘our’ section of canal. The cost to repair and maintain the canal will obviously cost much less than the pipe proposal and this is highlighted much more by the recent estimates for the new City Water Treatment plant. Cost estimates went from $23M to $36M because of unforeseen factors. In the Pipe Project, we have the same situation about to unfold. Estimates for the Pipe Project sit at around $3.7M but NO engineering has been done to study ground water, hillside springs, private property damage, etc. Using simple math, we can expect the Piping to end up costing $5.5-6M or more?? This is an ‘unknown’ but we know it will NOT cost $3.7M. To repair the canal will cost $800-900K (we have a contractor’s bid) with a guaranteed 50-100 years of service if properly and inexpensively maintained; quite the bargain in comparison!

In the years ahead, should the T.I.D. and others decide to pipe the many miles of open canal in Southern Oregon,  that would be the time to consider a project to pipe our section. Overall cost would be lessened as part of a large-scale project and financial burden on the Ashland resident would be minimalized. At that future time, damage to private property and the loss of a community asset, might be seen as a trade-off necessary to improve the Big Picture of water quality and conservation?

Whether  ill-conceived, or simply a project that is putting the cart before the horse, the citizens of Ashland should be spared the grief and unknown cost of piping the stretch of TID canal in our care. We have bigger and more pressing strains on the City Budget and staff at this time. Please, do the right thing and oppose the Ashland Canal Pipe Project!


John Hauschild, Ashland

Second Letter:

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

I took a walk along the irrigation ditch at the Terrace Street end this morning.  Bill and I walked it for the first time last week just to see what that end was like because we live at the Starlight end.  I encountered a young woman who was working on her garden.  I had noticed the garden last week not only for its size, but for the love and care a garden of this size requires.

I said hello, and complimented her on what she had created.  I learned that she is only here during the summer and that the garden is a collaboration between her and the owner of the property.  My guess is that she is (at least originally) from Canada because of the way she produced the “ou” in a word she used.  I asked her if she and the owner knew about the proposed piping of the canal and what it would mean to her garden.  I explained to her that a lot of it would be torn out in order to replace the pipe that it sat on top of.

This garden sits to the east of the Cottle property and it looks like the closest street is Henley Way.  The section of pipe there is one that is longer than a section that just goes underneath driveways.  A tear rolled down her cheek while we were talking, she had no idea that her labor of love was being threatened. I also wanted to see if an area in the ditch had been cleaned out since Bill and I had last been by.  We found one area that had up to 4 inches of leaves, sediment and gunk. Since we’d noticed the ditch walker come through yesterday, I thought that it was worth a look to see if anything had happened.  To my dismay, nothing had. Nothing has changed since then except maybe the Dahlias in the aforementioned garden have come into bloom.  They are quite lovely.

Respectfully, Julie Bonney-Shanor, Ashland