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Rogue River is not your neighbor's sewer

I knew that the only people who could settle a bet I have going with a friend are the nice folks at Since You Asked. Here is the question: A friend and I have been talking about the pipes that you see coming from people’s property that go directly into the Rogue River. My friend says that they are sewage pipes, but I say they are not and probably are just used to water the land. Do you happen to know what these pipes are used for?

— Kathy M., Medford

It’s questions like yours that make the gentle folks at Since You Asked just purr with delight.

The response is all the sweeter because — guess what, Kathy — you’re right and your friend is dead wrong. Sewage into the river? What is your friend thinking? I hope you bet a lot on this one, enough to buy all of us pizza at hungry Since You Asked headquarters.

First of all, state and federal water-quality officials wouldn’t tolerate sewage being dumped directly into the river, and neither would the salmon.

While it’s a no-no to pump into the Rogue, it is very common for riverside landowners to pump out of the Rogue — provided they have a legal water right to do so.

Property owners have been tapping into the Rogue River for some time, many of them having water rights that extend back for decades. And those rights stay with the land, regardless of how many times it changes ownership.

In general, water pipes, whether they’re three-quarter-inch plastic or 8-inch metal, are used to extract water for irrigation of vineyards, orchards and other properties. Usually an electric pump is used to get the water out of the river.

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.