SHADY COVE, Ore. – When the ballots are counted in Jackson County on Tuesday night, Shady Cove residents and city officials will know if the third time is the charm for efforts to create a city-wide water system. Shady Cove has long been known as the largest city in the state without it’s own water system.
Like the line from the “Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner”, Shady Cove is a city with “water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink”; at least that’s the case for many residents, whose wells are drying up and 90% of Shady Cove homes are watered with wells or delivery services. A small private water utility, Shady Cove Waterworks, is for sale and serves a few homes. Two times before, in 1991 and 1999, voters rejected a city system as too expensive. Now, city officials think it’s time to try again.
“If we wait too many years to say, ‘Now is the time to do it’, we may look for water from Lost Creek and they say, ‘I’m sorry, it’s already been allocated to other cities.’ We don’t wanna find ourselves in that type of situation,” said the Shady Cove Mayor, Ron Holthusen.
Not only have voters before rejected a city-built system, but a separate water district was formed, then folded when it was unable to find funding. Holthusen says $23 million may sound like a lot, but it will mean a lot in economic development.
“I think, at the end of the day, we really tried to package this and portray this correctly as a community project, said Mayor Holthusen. “Even though we know there are individual areas that have problems, what we really are about is ensuring the viability of the community in the long term.”
Shady Cove has been a city for 40 years now, and during most of that time there’s been a raging debate about how to get water to city residents, aside from wells, they’ve already been drilled. Several attempts have been made, but city officials say with interest rates at record lows right now, this may be the best chance they have.