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Millpond Village residents are tired of their pond being dry

ASHLAND ' A subdivision has lost the feature for which it was named. A pond in Millpond Village has been dry the last two summers.

Several different theories suggest where the water has gone. But residents would like to see the pond full of water again.

I'm tired of not having water in there. I believe it's diminishing our property values, said Bill Greenstein, a board member of the Millpond Homeowners Association and a resident since 1989. It's been a wonderful amenity.

I built my house to look at this beautiful site. ... of course it just breaks my heart, said association president Johanna Fisher.

Pond water levels had never been a problem until the summer of 2001, said Hollie Cannon of Water Rights Solutions, who was hired by the association to find out what happened.

A lumber mill had a log pond at the site until the 1970s. The subdivision was developed in the mid-1980s.

Historically the pond has had a very stable and dependable flow of water, which obviously had to be there for a mill to use it, said Cannon

Cannon said he thinks a city-approved development above Millpond has decreased water percolating into a shallow aquifer. A connected spring fed the pond.

Millpond resident Richard Hart, who conducts watershed assessments and ecosystem monitoring, says the water has shifted to Paradise Creek after it was reworked by the city to deal with flooding that occurred in 1997. The city obtained permits from the Division of State Lands for the work.

The pond is about three feet higher than Paradise Creek, which is 150 feet to the east. Hart says the water table also may have fallen.

I think the theories unfortunately become reality, and that's what I'm trying to work through, said Ashland Public Works Director Paula Brown. She hopes to determine why water levels decreased and to provide a solution to the problem by spring.

Ten years ago there was way too much water, said Fisher. At that time the association gave up water rights it had with the Talent Irrigation District. The association reapplied for the rights this year, but Fisher was told it would be two to three years before residents could expect water.

Residents ran a pipe from a nearby spring to the pond earlier this year. Although the flow did not prevent the pond from drying out in the summer, it has allowed a shallow accumulation of water in about one-quarter of the pond's 1,865-square-foot area this fall. A few wood ducks have returned.

The spring will be supplemented by water from Paradise Creek. In July the city authorized the association to remove up to 10 gallons per minute from the creek. The association is working with a contractor to develop a pumping system.

Hart said the city's allocation and the spring water wouldn't be enough to maintain the pond because of porous soil conditions. He proposed installing a liner, but the association rejected the idea.

I'm apprehensive whether we can maintain the level of the pond without a liner, said Hart.