Letters, March 31
Consider sewage treatment options
I’m trying to find out why there has been no cost-benefit analysis of abandoning the Ashland wastewater treatment plant and hooking into Rogue Valley Sewer Services. This is critical to get our financial house in order. Wastewater treatment is one of the largest items in the budget by far.
According to the biennial 2019-’21 budget, the Wastewater Division accounts for over $6 million a year just to operate. That figure does not include debt service or capital outlay, just personnel, materials/services, and central services.
The current capital improvement plan calls for over $13 million in outlays over the next six years.
Just those two items will cost the city about $50 million over the next six years, not accounting for inflation of costs and unanticipated maintenance items.
The only off-the-cuff estimate of hooking up I’ve heard was maybe $35 million. Even if that’s way low and it’s $50 million, it’s a wash after six years.
Of course we have to find out the usage charges.
And this is just the financials. We would also stop dumping hot water into Bear Creek. We would not have to jump through hoops trying to deal with DEQ, EPA, etc.
What I’m saying is that it’s essential that we investigate the possibility that it might be worth doing. Consider the WWTP a mistake, a sunk cost. Perhaps the facility could be reutilized as some kind of benefit for the community.
And it’s essential that we do it right away, before public works starts throwing money at the upgrades to the current WWTP, which are scheduled to begin this year as preventative maintenance. If those proactive maintenance items can be postponed until they are necessary, perhaps we can avoid them altogether, or many of them.
It seems obvious to me that we must investigate this option now.
How can we make this happen?
Climate plan needed
In Oregon’s 2020 legislative session, for the second year in a row, Republicans walked out of the Capitol breaking the quorum and preventing many important proposals from being discussed and voted up or down on the floor. Chief among these was a well-crafted bill to establish a meaningful greenhouse gas emissions program for the state, which would have reduced emissions and provided economic support for rural Oregon and other disadvantaged Oregonians.
By firmly throwing their fellow Oregonians, our children and grandchildren under the oncoming bus of climate chaos, Republicans essentially forced the governor to sign Executive Order 20-04. This charges state agencies to develop plans that establish an Oregon Climate Action Plan to achieve the goals of the above 2020 legislation.
While some agencies began well by energetically trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or remove them from the atmosphere, others were resistant or simply and falsely claimed they were already doing everything they could.
The science is as clear as science can be, Earth is spherical, COVID is real, and human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are driving us toward a cliff beyond which life as we know it will be devastated. Rural Oregonians demand an effective climate action plan.