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Wasting time and water

Ashland is ostensibly a community that cares about the wise use of natural resources. But when it comes to piping 2 miles of a nearly century-old irrigation ditch, many residents apparently value the aesthetic benefits of walking along the ditch while it evaporates and seeps away 62 million gallons of water every summer more than they value conserving that water and protecting it from fecal contamination.

The most recent development in the 18-month saga of what should be a straightforward public works project was the City Council’s move this week to postpone a decision on the project in the face of vocal opposition. It has now reached the point that residents along the canal are threatening to sue the city, apparently for loss of property value, if the project goes forward.

Opponents of the project claim E. coli bacteria is entering the canal before it reaches the city limits, but a 2011 study of water samples taken at the city boundary and at Ashland Creek clearly showed bacteria counts increased after the canal entered the city, and spiked during rainstorms, which tend to wash animal waste into the canal.

Ashland Creek is frequently closed to wading in Lithia Park in the summer months because bacteria levels rise. This project would help address that, as well as conserving a considerable amount of water that is now wasted.

The vocal opposition and continued delay is wasting City Council time that could be spent on other matters. The council should make a decision and move on.