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Ashland doesn't draw water from Emigrant Lake

I was wondering why Ashland doesn't pull water from Emigrant Lake sooner so Reeder Reservoir could stay fuller longer. We wouldn't be drinking water when the lake is almost empty and the water tastes nasty. Doesn't Ashland's declaration of a water shortage give it first priority to the lake water? Surely there's enough water in the lake to get Ashland through this year. If they mixed the two together sooner, our water wouldn't taste so bad. Maybe we wouldn't be the only city in the Rogue Valley short of water if we followed these steps.

— Fred W., Ashland

First of all, Fred, the city of Ashland doesn't pull water directly from Emigrant Lake. It does use Talent Irrigation District water, but that comes from Hyatt and Howard Prairie, according to city Administrator Dave Kanner.

"We don't ever pull from Emigrant Lake," he said.

The city plans to start using TID water as soon as its 260-million gallon Reeder Reservoir starts dropping. So far enough water has been coming in to keep the reservoir full and provide sufficient water for the city of Ashland.

Kanner said the city could begin supplementing the reservoir with TID water by the end of this month. Normally the city taps into TID water in August.

"TID can supplement our water supply, but it cannot replace our water supply," Kanner said.

Kanner said the city expects consumption to increase once the valley experiences hotter weather. Also, as the weather warms, less water will flow into Reeder Reservoir, he said.

In 2009, the city asked residents to voluntarily limit consumption, and that request was sufficient to head off a water shortage.

The city of Ashland is preparing to build a pipeline that will bring water from Medford to Ashland in the event of shortages. The line already extends to Talent.

City officials hope the pipeline project will be finished by mid-August.

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