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Plastic bags, TAP intertie on Ashland council agenda

When Ashland City Council meets Tuesday, it will consider banning plastic shopping bags and hear that the costs to engineer and construct an emergency water line have escalated from an estimated to $2.3 million to an estimated $4.3 million.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Councilors will consider an ordinance to ban the distribution of plastic bags by retail businesses in town.

Businesses could use paper bags, but the bags would have to contain at least 40 percent recycled content.

Customers must be charged at least 25 cents per paper bag, according to the proposed ordinance.

Businesses would have to provide free reusable or paper bags at the request of customers enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program.

The new law would not be enforced for six months, to give businesses time to exhaust their supplies of plastic bags and to develop new systems to supply paper bags and encourage the use of reusable bags.

Many grocery stores in Ashland have already stopped offering plastic bags and encourage customers to bring their own reusable shopping bags.

Some plastic bags would still be allowed under the ordinance, including those used to package bulk items, produce, meat, frozen foods, potted plants and other damp items, hot prepared food and liquids, unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods, prescriptions and dry-cleaned clothing.

In other business Tuesday night, councilors will hear cost updates for the Talent-Ashland-Phoenix water line, which already brings Medford water to Talent.

The cost to engineer and build a TAP line extension from Talent to Ashland was previously projected at $2.3 million.

An engineering firm's new estimate puts the cost at $4.3 million, including a $947,000 contingency fund, according to Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught.

Because of expected drought this summer, the city hopes to build the TAP line in time to bring emergency water to Ashland in mid-August.

The extra costs are due to the expedited schedule, rising construction costs and plans to boost the pipe's capacity from 1.5 million gallons per day to 2.3 million gallons per day, Faught said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.