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Water service offered to parched Shady Cove

A community meeting tonight will give residents of Shady Cove, most of whom rely on wells for their drinking water, a chance to find out about a possible water service.

Hiland Water, a private company with holdings around the city and enough water rights to provide for residents who need it, will host an open house at 7 p.m. today, Sept. 25, at the Jackson County Fire District 4 fire station, 21200 Highway 62.

Based in Newberg, Hiland Water recently purchased a handful of smaller water service areas and approached the city about extending water to other residents.

City Administrator Aaron Prunty said Hiland's offer to Shady Cove, the largest city in the state without a municipal water supply, was "really big news for our small town." Several bond measures to establish a water system have been voted down by residents in the past.

"There are a handful of private water systems, but not a large one for the community of Shady Cove," Prunty said.

"Everybody has a well in Shady Cove, and for whatever reason the town never got around to setting up a municipal supply. I guess it is kind of funny we don't have one, but it's been on the ballot several times and been voted down every time."

Prunty said estimates in recent years found that a municipal supply likely would cost a minimum of $50 per month per household.

Silas Olson, business manager for Hiland Water, said costs, logistics of connecting to the company's infrastructure and other details would be available at the meeting, in addition to information about existing infrastructure including Northridge, Whispering Pines and Shady Cove Water Works.

"We've already done a lot of work in Shady Cove and we have the resources to be able to expand our infrastructure and offer water to residents who need that," Olson said.

"Since we've come to town, we've had a lot of calls from people who have had wells that have dried up and would like to be part of a community water system like this."

Olson said increased access to water and a community supply would improve fire safety ratings for home and business owners.

"Our secondary goal is to bring some added fire protection to the town here. The fire safety rating is not very good because of the lack of water supply, and we have some hydrants pretty close to where our infrastructure is and would like to extend that and branch out down the highway business district," he said. 

For more on Hiland Water, visit www.hilandwater.com.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.