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Agricultural water use ban was based on honor system

Has anyone from the Medford Water Commission indicated what, if any, controls are in place, or proposed, to monitor who draws and transports water from the two public water points, and to where, and to what use it is being used?

― C., Medford

A national chlorine shortage prompted the Medford Water Commission to announce on June 1 that water from two bulk water filling stations couldn’t be used for agriculture.

People were asked to use the treated water from the stations only for domestic needs.

The commission lifted the agricultural restriction last week, said General Manager Brad Taylor.

The chlorine shortage has been easing after a Washington state chlorine plant crippled by an electrical failure resumed production.

Taylor said the Medford Water Commission doesn’t have a way to track whether its bulk water is being used for domestic or agricultural uses.

The commission was essentially asking for voluntary compliance, he said.

Taylor said one of the bulk water filling stations is coin-operated, which limits the commission’s ability to track who is using the water. The other operates through a prepaid card system, which could be equipped with added technology to better track water use.

Taylor said the commission will have a discussion in the fall about water fill policies and whether to invest in more technology to track water use.

During the temporary ban on agricultural water use, he said the commission received a lot of feedback from the public. Some people reported seeing water delivered to local growers. Others said big water hauling trucks using the filling stations were red flags that water was being picked up and delivered to growers.

“Sometimes big hauler trucks are serving multiple domestic customers,” Taylor said.

Some residents have dry or inadequate wells and rely on deliveries of treated water for their domestic needs, he said.

The Medford Water Commission, which supplies water to Medford and several other Rogue Valley cities, is continuing to ask all customers to use water wisely and practice conservation.

The chlorine supply chain hasn’t completely stabilized, and Jackson County is in the midst of a multi-year drought.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.