Playing TAPs for Ashland

This could be a record, folks.

On Tuesday, May 6, a majority of the city council prevailed over Russ Silbiger and Kate Jackson and, under the guise of needing more information, decided not to pay its way for the TAP water plan, against a pro vote that was given this last January just four short months ago. It was supposed to be a vote to disburse the agreed-upon funds, but was water-boarded into a motion to basically pull an about-face and march into the desert without a canteen, compass, map, hat and trail mix.

Ten short days later the Mail Tribune reported:

"With the abrupt arrival of triple-digit heat, city officials are pleading with residents to conserve water because Ashland's reservoirs are critically low, and cold and dirty snowmelt is taking a long time to filter and treat.

Residents are being asked to avoid watering until after 8 p.m. and to take other conservation measures, city officials said in a news release Friday."

Only some weeks ago, the consulting team Ashland engaged to evaluate Hossler dam and Reeder Reservoir recommended that we continue with the TAP project, as all our eggs are in one basket behind an old dam filling with silt and blooming algae. If something goes untoward in our reservoir, we will all be flopping on the sands of our own ignorance and prejudices as we drive to Medford for a weekly shower. Porta-potties will dot the landscape as even toilet flushing water is to be conserved, lest our fire hydrants belch air when called upon to save a burning house from turning into an uncontrolled conflagration.

What fun!

For decades the Talent/Ashland/Phoenix (TAP) water intertie has sailed back and forth over the political net, with the pros and cons causing much handwringing within our community. I never quite understood, other than a purely political growth/no-growth sense, why Ashland would ever opt out of the concept, this due to the 1974 and 1997 floods that shut down our own water system for days to weeks. A fire in the watershed, an earthquake that might compromise the dam or cause a landslide above the water treatment plant, a low snowpack, extended drought are all possible causes for a waterless future for our insightful community.

In any emergency it is always good to have options. Fighter jets have ejection seats, police cars have back-up units, fire trucks have nearby hydrants, flu season has shots and cars have seat belts"&

166;all there to ensure safety during trying times. The vote not to fund our portion of the TAP engineering seems misguided at best and myopic at worst, setting Ashland up for an unnecessary faux fall.

Ashland has already spent approximately $2.5 million dollars on the effort, with 75 percent coming from system development charges (SDC's) and the balance from rate payers. No loans have yet been needed, but if we walk away from TAP, SDC monies will no longer be collected, making any future funding unattractive by comparison.

Through all the layers of politics it is at least comforting to know that, should any of many potential catastrophes touch only briefly upon us, we will have the full confidence of the city, ready, willing and able to dole out ladles of Lithia water for our ablutions, just as soon as the fountain is found by Indiana Jones and re-installed again on the Plaza.

If it has taken almost two years to get a water fountain fixed, we really do need a back-up system that works when, as thirst and tumbleweeds vie for attention, time is of the essence.

(Lance has been busy trying to slake his thirst for a further understanding of the actions and anglings of the council. You are all invited to comment on this article and/or contact the council. Understanding that the great scythe of politics cuts both ways, please duck when sending tidbits, tomes, epiphanies, insights or remembrances to

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