EPID meeting gets heated

By Ralph McKechnie

The December 10 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Eagle Point Irrigation District was both

lively and interesting. One of the more interesting topics has been the relationship between the District

and Medford Water Commission.  As most know, the two entities share water from the Big Butte Creek;

MWC from what is known as Big Butte Springs and EPID uses creek water from a diversion below the city

of Butte Falls.  The source of the water is the same area, the west slope of Mt. McLoughlin, the clarity of

the water, however, is not the same.

MWC takes water straight from the springs, some of the purest water on the face of the planet.

That water never sees the light of day until it comes straight from the tap within the city of Medford.  EPID

uses water from the creek because the purity is not there by the time it reaches the diversion canal.  Over

the last century, that has been a workable agreement, the sides dividing the water on the basis of a 77/23

percent split.  In that agreement, EPID gets the lion’s share of the water.  However, if the total stream flow

drops to less than what it takes to fulfill both water rights, the water is split on that 77/23 basis.

Over the years, the demand for water within the city of Medford has increased with the increased

population, but the water needs of the District have remained constant.  This increased need lead to

MWC placing another pipeline to supply an additional amount directly to the city.

Attorney Bill Mansfield reported that MWC desires to change a point of diversion from the area at

the springs to the Duff Treatment plant, which would require that the amount of the MWC water right

bypass the diversion and flow to the plant through Big Butte Creek and the Rogue River.  What in effect

this would do would be to short EPID of their water and gain fish passage which is being required of

MWC.  This could create a no-win situation for EPID and severely harm district patrons.  Mansfield

reported that he felt Oregon Water Law would prevent this from happening.

Manager David Ford reported that all repairs have been completed and the canal is now flowing

at 58 cfs and the hydro operation is currently running at 75 percent.  Lake level in Willow Lake are

currently at 3800 acre-feet.  That figure is approximately 1/2 full, and approximately 400 acre-feet more

than on the same date last year.  Ford also reported that the District had pumping costs of $58,000 for the

season, to draw additional water from North Ford Butte Creek to keep the canal at manageable levels.

Following a discussion on the budget for the coming year, Board members Gary Bedell and Stan

Deupree got into a heated discussion that resulted in Deupree walking out of the meeting and declaring

that he was resigning.

The remaining board members, Bedell and J. B. Dimick passed the resolution to adopt the budget

for 2015, which would alter some of the tax lot charges and would also raise the O & M fees to $38/acre

for the 2015 irrigation season.

On the positive side, Ford reported that the headquarters building has been paid off and the

District will no longer have to make payments there.  The District hired Shelby Snow to help in the office

and she is currently in training.

The annual meeting is scheduled for January 20, place and time to be announced later.

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