Urgent from Senator Whitsett:
Email rep on tomorrows HB2564, well meters
May 15, 2007
At 5pm this afternoon we were notified that HB
2564, Oregon's Water Measurement Bill will be
voted on by the full House of Representatives
Wednesday May 16th. Please contact the members of
the Oregon House of Representatives and ask for a
"no" vote on this bill. You can find their e-mail
Sent: May 15, 2007 Subject: FW: Officials vote to
charge property owners to draw groundwater-fyi-jt
We need a full court press against the Oregon
Water Measurement bill HB 2564, which is coming to
the House of Representatives for a vote later this
week . The following article exemplifies what is
bound to happen with time when all of the water
measurement devices are mandatorily installed in
Oregon. PLEASE call or e-mail the members of the
Oregon House of Representatives and ask for a "no"
vote on this egregious and draconian bill that has
the potential to destroy agriculture in Oregon,
and cause undue significant harm to the citizens
of the state who depend on water wells for their
homes and businesses. It is expected to be
carried by Representative Bob Jensen (Republican
of Umatilla), but this is the culmination of many
years of trying to get in to law, by the Portand
Democrat, Jackie Dingfelter.
A letter of opposition to this bill has already
been signed by a dozen major agricultural, civic,
forestry and industry groups, but ultimately the
people of Oregon carry the most weight with the
elected officials, as they have the power to vote
the supporters of this bill out of office.
All of the e-mail addresses of the Oregon House of
Representatives can be found at
It is imperative to contact each representative
and let them know the citizens of the state do not
want this bill and that it is not an innocuous
bill. It has the potential to be harmful and
Talking points on the bill include:
1.) THERE IS NO REASON TO CODIFY THE OWRD'S
CURRENT MEASUREMENT PROGRAM
The legislation is unnecessary to the
extent it attempts to codify the strategic water
measurement proram the OWRD already has statutory
authority for and is already implementing.
2.) AMENDMENT DOES MORE THAN CODIFY OWRD's CURRENT
The legislation does far more than codify the
OWRD's current measurement program. The amendment
seeks to require water users to measure AND
REPORT their water use to the Department. The
existing program being implemented by the OWRD
does not require water use reporting.
3.) WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF REPORTING WATER USE?
The proposed amendment seeks to require water
users to measure and report their water use.
Proponents have yet to provide a reason for why
water use should be reported to the department and
what the department intends to do with the data.
4.) AMENDMENT FAILS TO ADDRESS COSTS ASSOCIATED
WITH WATER USE REPORTING
The OWRD will incur substantial costs if water
users are required to report their water use,
particularly if water use is reported on a broad
scale. The amendment does not provide the OWRD
with the funding that will be necessary to make
use of the data reported to the department.
5.) COST SHARE COMPONENTS OF THE AMENDMENT ARE A
The legislation directs OWEB to operate a grant
program for measurement devices. However, the
amendment provides no guarantee to the level of
funding in the grant program. Successful
cost-share programs, like the fish-screening
program, specifically articulate the level of
funding that is avalable to landowners.
6.) AMENDMENT DOES NOT CREATE INCENTIVES FOR WATER
The most productive method of increasing water
measurement in Oregon would be a voluntary
approach. If the state provides incentives for
water measurement, many landowners would
participate on a voluntary basis. The amendment
continues to mandate measurement instead of
recognizing the benefits of a voluntary approach.
THIS IS A BAD BILL - PLEASE CONTACT ALL 60
MEMBERS OF THE OREGON HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND
DEMAND A "NO" VOTE OF THEM ON HB 2564.
Thank you for your consideration and time.
Gail Hildreth Whitsett
Officials vote to charge
property owners to draw groundwater
By Alex Breitler
Record Staff Writer
May 15, 2007 6:00 AM
LODI, California - A handful of people booed the
loudest, but it was the silence of thousands more
that was the deciding factor as officials voted
Monday to charge rural landowners to draw
The unanimous vote by the North San Joaquin Water
Conservation District marked the end of three
straight weeks of Monday night hearings over the
new fee - or tax, depending on whom you ask.
North San Joaquin district officials say the money
is needed to pay for new pipelines and other
equipment to take water from the Mokelumne River
and deliver it to farms as well as put it
underground to boost the aquifer.
The state is threatening to take away the
district's water rights if it cannot make full use
of the water it is allocated.
Property owners could have thwarted the district's
plan if a majority had filed protests. But of the
5,501 property owners potentially subject to the
fees, only 974 protested, an attorney for the
Critics blamed the district for poor communication
and claimed that as a result, some of the protests
went astray in the mail or were never filed.
"I've never heard of a voting system this way in
America," retired farmer Bill Fuhs said.
District officials said they followed the letter
of Proposition 218, a voter-approved initiative
allowing taxpayers to reject tax increases and
Under the fee, rural homeowners are asked to pay
$21.40 a year. Growers would be assessed anywhere
from $6.42 an acre to $17.12 an acre. The fee
would raise about $900,000 a year.
If nothing is done, the district loses its
Mokelumne River water rights, and groundwater
levels will keep falling at an average of 1 foot
per year, Ed Steffani, the district's manager, has
As the district's former attorney Bud Adams put it
at a previous hearing: "We're going to be raising
tortoises out here" without water from the river.
State officials have threatened to step in and
decide how much groundwater should be used in San
Joaquin County. Such a move could slap meters on
farmers' wells, reducing groundwater pumping by 25
percent in the North San Joaquin district and
hurting the economy, Steffani has said.
Bryan Pilkington, who lives on Bear Creek, said he
will voice his disgust over the fee at a key
hearing next month.
The State Water Resources Control Board is
scheduled June 21 to decide if the district's
water rights should be preserved.
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295