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Court test shows dry wells in Central Point

Subdivision neighbors say storm pipe under Beebe Road drained them of water

CENTRAL POINT — Results of a court-approved test well last week confirm what 13 Beebe Road farmers and homeowners claim to have discovered four years ago ' that their wells have gone dry.

The neighbors filed a lawsuit in April 2000 claiming that placement of a storm pipe under Beebe Road during development of the Central Point East subdivision in 1998 caused their wells to run dry.

Neighbors claim their wells dried up from one home to the next, in a domino effect, and water now flows at a large volume out of the storm pipe at the end of Beebe Road into a small creek.

The test well was approved in August by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Phil Arnold.

Scott Borison for Laura Schroeder Law Offices of Portland, which represents the residents, said Tuesday that the test well, drilled to 55 feet, turned up so little water that a flow test was not conducted.

The defendants have drilled a 55-foot-deep test well, and though they prepared to do a flow test, they ended up not doing so because of the low volume of the water, Borison said.

Had they tested the flow, I believe the water flow would have come up less than a gallon per minute, which is inadequate for agriculture or domestic use. I think they were looking for a flow of between 20 and 25 gallons per minute. Acceptable might have been between eight and 10.

This confirms what we've been saying, that the storm drain simply drained away any water that was available to these people.

According to court documents, defendants in the suit include Central Point Properties Inc., Michael P. and Janet E. Thornton and the Thornton Engineering firm, Jackson County, the city of Central Point, Partners Trust Co. Inc., Investment Marketing and Acquisition and DeCarlow Homes Inc., which is also a cross-petitioner suing Thornton Engineering.

Both Thornton and representatives of DeCarlow homes have declined comment pending the outcome of the case. Salem attorney Gerald Warren, who represents the city, previously stated that Central Point had little to do with the case in which a lot of people are being sued and things still need ironing out.

Attorneys for Southern Oregon Underground, which excavated the storm drain trench, had declined comment pending the test well. They were unavailable for this story because of the holidays.

Farmer and lifelong resident Ken Beebe said the test well was just another step in a drawn-out process to tally up more legal fees for both sides.

I told them from the start there's nothing in (the wells), and they didn't believe me, but they spent &

36;8,000 finding out, Beebe said.

We had a well that provided us with water all 114 years we lived here and suddenly we didn't have anything. I told the guy (Borison) from the law office they wouldn't find a damn thing, and he called me before he left and said guess what, they didn't find a damn thing.

A jury trial for the case is set for August 2003.

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.