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Out-of-bounds neighbors would like access to southwest Medford water tank

There's a two-million-gallon water tank being built in southwest Medford, and the neighbors who are high and dry in summer months can't touch it.

We're on a community well, said Mary Ann Hoffman, who lives off of Surrey Drive. The water's a mess.

Residents have to haul water to fill holding tanks in the summer. It's an inconvenience, she said, adding she would pay to have access to the new reservoir.

The neighbors drive by the huge tank every day, but they can't have a drop because they're not within the city's urban growth boundary and therefore cannot hook into city services.

The new reservoir, under construction off Surrey Drive near Dark Hollow Road for the next three months, will serve southwest Medford within the urban growth boundary.

It's part of the Medford Water Commission, which serves about 103,000 patrons in Jackson County.

Meanwhile, residents on roads such as Surrey Drive, Carriage Drive and Dark Hollow Road ration water from low-yield wells and/or haul water, especially in summer months.

According to Ed Olson, manager of the Medford Water Commission, this neighborhood's situation is not unique.

There are 17 reservoirs in the county, totaling a capacity of 35 million gallons of stored water, he said.

The reservoirs are mostly built on hillsides, so gravity can help maintain water pressure in times when the power goes out, he said. The water also helps supplement the regular supply during peak hours of water usage.

With many reservoirs built outside of cities' urban growth boundaries, rural residents often want to tap in.

We get 10 to 15 requests for service every year, said Olson.

But it's more than a matter of a couple of neighbors sticking a hose in a tank, according to Medford Planning Director Rob Scott.

It's not that simple for just that group that wants it, he said.

Scott said there's a policy between Medford and the water commission that only those within the urban growth boundary may have access to the system.

He said the city needs to look at the big picture, and ask how letting rural residents use city water helps with city planning and providing services.

Olson said residents within the urban growth boundary have expressed concern about allowing rural residents to just pay a monthly bill for city water usage.

The citizens of Medford paid for the infrastructure that supports urban water, said Olson.

He said the policy is actually set by each city in Jackson County, and is a city council decision.

It's just a city policy, but it's been a policy for 30 years, he said.

He said a secondary issue he hears concerning the reservoirs is that people who move out to the country don't want to look at a big ugly tank.

That's why the reservoir will be an earth tone color, and there will be landscaping around it so it isn't such an eyesore, said Olson.

But Hoffman said she's not troubled about the tank being built.

Personally, I'm not upset that it's going in, said Hoffman. Ideally, I'd love to tap into the water.


The Medford Water Commission is building a new water storage tank near Dark Hollow Road, but nearby residents won?t be able to tap into it. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell