Eagle Point Irrigation District
EPID may meeting
By Ralph McKechnie
Of the Independent
There has been a great deal of activity surrounding Eagle Point Irrigation District of late, and it all centers on two issues. As might be expected, those two would be the supply of water and the embezzlement issue. The water supply is one that little can be done about; the other has seemingly been taken care of.
Office personnel have been implementing changes that prevent a recurrence of the problem they encountered with the embezzlement. Auditor Rick Brewster has been available to help set in place procedures that prevent any one person from having access to funds as has been the case over the years. As is the usual, diligence is the key to prevention of any further occurrence.
The incident has left the Board of Directors with an egg on their collective faces; they have been searching for ways to prevent any further problems. Attorney Bill Mansfield reported that arraignment for Becky Santana will be the 29th of this month, and he expects that the courts will be somewhat lenient because court focus nowadays is on violent criminal activity. Actual court hearings will be at some future date.
Despite the serious nature of the crime, Eagle Point Irrigation District has come out of it pretty well, considering that in most cases, the money has vanished. In this case, they were covered by insurance, banking policy and the culprit agreed to take money from her retirement account to cover a major portion of the loss. Despite that, the District is still out some money.
Auditor Rick Brewster was grilled about what the Board called lack of attention to detail during spot checks. Brewster said that most of this type crime is done by someone who has access to much of the money and who has carefully planned out a system to keep from getting caught. Brewster pledged to work with the District on developing a system that would both keep money from being a temptation and a system that would give the District assurance that any future attempt to take money would be detected immediately.
The other major issue is the water, or the lack thereof. When supplies are tight, people are turning over rocks to find any available sources to fulfill their promise to subscribers. When the district hired Buck Rowden to investigate the water situation, they did so because the Medford Water Commission had asked that they allow several feet per second of water to pass the diversion for stream flows.
Rowden discovered was what he believed to be over consumption by water users above the District’s intake. Rowden and the Jackson county water Master explored further and found some errors that have been rectified as of this time. Several months ago, the Medford Water Commission put pressure on the District to release some water to the stream for fish passage. The amount requested would have hurt the District’s ability to deliver the amount of water needed by patrons. The overconsumption upstream from the District’s diversion has made a difference in stream flows and eased the demand for downstream water—at last for the moment.
Buck Rowden and the Water Master have been working together to determine proper flows for the District, because they have a right going back to before 1920 and they are entitled to that amount an no more. Low water years, such as this, bring attention to what is happening on the stream.
Newly installed devices to measure accurate flow will be the topic for the summer months. Making sure they are properly adjusted and reading data correctly can make a big difference in the canal being full during the summer months. Making everyone live up to their agreements is another part of the puzzle, as it is in all water districts.
This subject will no doubt be thrown about for the balance of this year, and for as long as we remain in drought conditions.
The Eagle Point Irrigation District meets monthly at the office on Brophy Road, beginning at 5 p. m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Special meetings may be called at other times, but adequate notice will precede those meetings.