State wants to charge a fee to use your own well

Oregonians In Action

If you live in a rural area and use well water, you need to pay close attention to the Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD).

In a recently released internal memo prepared by WRD staff, the WRD plans to ask the 2013 Oregon Legislature to approve an “exempt use well fee” that would be charged for every rural Oregon farmer, rancher, or rural homeowner using a domestic well. The amount of the fee is not listed – you can rest assured it will be the maximum that the WRD believes the legislature will approve.

The purpose of the fee is to “secure stable funding for water resource management.” In other words, the WRD doesn’t want to rely on the state’s general fund revenues (primarily from Oregon income taxes) for their funding. Instead, they want to charge every rural Oregonian a fee to pay for their activities.

The WRD certainly performs some important duties. However, ensuring that water is properly used in Oregon is a benefit to all Oregonians, not just rural well users. Why is it that the WRD thinks that only rural homeowners should pay for the cost of their programs?

This is especially true given that the WRD staff has grown by nearly 20% in the last decade, while the number of new domestic wells have been cut in half. When WRD complains that they don’t have enough money in these tough economic times, someone needs to remind them that they must be doing okay, if they’ve been able to add so many new employees to the state payroll.

And if the number of new wells is going down, that means properties with existing wells would have to pay an even bigger fee to fund a department that keeps growing and growing, even during a major economic downturn.

In short, it is simply unfair to demand that one type of water user pay for the entire cost of an agency that doesn’t want to rely on the legislature for funding. Every rural property owner pays their fair share of taxes to fund the WRD – they shouldn’t have to pay more than people who live in the city.

Keep an eye out for legislation in 2013 that implements the WRD plan. We need to stop that legislation in its tracks.


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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Oregon Government | 538 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ron Glynn

    Hell NO!

  • Bob Clark

    Insidious bureaucracies are perpetually testing ways to expand if not survive eternally.  Ronald Reagan famously said the only thing closest to eternal life on this planet is a government agency.  Sunsetting such agencies might be appropriate push back against their innate desire to expand their bleed of a flat economy, helped made flat by their own restrictive actions against freedom.

  • HBguy

    You can use your well all you want. But to use the groundwater, which is publicly owned asset, there is oversight. And, from what I can tell, this doesn’t effect property owners who own water rights, it’s for exempt wells, which simply draw groundwater.

    The question here is….should those that use a public resource be required to pay some of the cost directly for the regulation of that use.

    I think a conservative position would be yes. It’s a user fee.

    You can argue whether the public should regulate and oversee the private use of publicly owner groundwater. Though I think the answer should be yes, we don’t want someone taking all the groundwater at the expense of a neighbor. And we don’t want someone polluting the groundwater that others tap.

    And you can argue about the size of the agency I suppose. So I could support the argument that we should reduce the general fund contribution to the agency by the amount raised by the new exempt well fee.

    But, in many if not most cases, I support user fees when public resources are being used for private purposes. And that’s what this appears to be.

    • valley person

       I’m a rural resident and farmer on a well and I totally support this. Why should most residents and businesses, who are on municipal water supplies and pay for that, have to subsidize management of rural water users. We rural residents depend on the state to monitor well use and prevent overuse, which is a problem where I live. Paying for that service makes sense. 

      • JoelinPDX

        Damn VP, I actually agree with you…to a point. It;s only reasonable that well users pay for the cost of making sure they are using their wells correctly…it is, after all, a user fee. But in no way should the fees be more than is required, they can’t charge more than necessary and send the overage to the general fund.

        It only makes sense that rural users should pay their fair share…but not a penny more than their fair share.

        • Crabman34

          Who is saying that they will charge more than is required?

      •  Municipal residents pay for the costs of procuring, treating & delivering & removing of water.  So do rural residents who bear higher costs then municipal customers.  Neither party pays for the water–if so the state would have water revenues, like they have timber revenues.  This proposed BS is a water tax on top of the  delivery cost and thus should be applied equally to municipalities.

      • Xensenhome

        I agree with you and JoelinPDX.  We paids for our WELLS to begin with; drilling and permits.  Some rural folks are on limited incomes.  With just the gas prices rural folks are hard hit… We dont have access to mass transit.  So I think I will oppose this one.

    • Rural people waste less water because they know they are the ones paying for pumping and treating.

    •  User fees for water should then apply to boaters, swimmers, fishing, dredging, parks, fire departments, ski lodges, surfers, parks & recreation departs, forest service, governments, schools, PG&E, etc. 

      The agency, like all government, should be audited with time studies to improve efficiency and prove validity of the claimed needs.

      • Crabman34

        There are user fees for boaters, swimmers, fishers, parks, fire departments, etc..  They are called taxes, park fees, boating licenses, etc..

        •  The current fees are to supply money for a government agency with wages, PERS and other bennies.  They are not a water tax.  Additional tax would need to be added to these taxes, fees and licenses to keep it all fair and equal so nobody had to pay more than anybody else and the government is kept fat and happy until the end.

    • The owner of a private well, as a member of the public that owns the water, is required to pay for everything, including tests for quality and production and provide remedial treatment if  needed, or drill another well, or set up to buy water, if that one doesn’t meet flow requirements for selling the property–when the time comes. For many city dwellers, the state water people seems to find it acceptable to allow them to consume other people’s medicine that passed through the human body without breaking down there or in the waste water treatment plants. But, hey, that’s what we pay them the big bucks for.

      Those people, hired to represent the people of Oregon in certain areas of performance, have very little to do with private wells. Or public water systems because the utilities take care of their own testing.  They might be bothered to send out a notice that someone missed a test or something, nothing too demanding. Ah, yes but they need more money.

      When a person wants to drill a well on their property, the state water master either issues a permit or not.  The water master consults maps–doesn’t even have to leave the office. But, more money is needed.

      Even though the state does little, can control nothing, and abuses the power they’ve been given, but wants their PERS, perks, and union pay–well, I’d say it’s time to just re-do the state. 

      With the earth changes that are coming, I am confident we’ll get the re-do we need to clean house.

    • BlueDuck

      OK, so to follow your logic through, the water under my land flows to the river and into the public drinking supply.  Therefore, those who use the water that sources under my property should be paying me for the right to use my private water since it flowed from under my property. 

      There are two real issues here, neither are about water.  The first and worst is that the government thinks they have to CONTROL every aspect of my life, from the water I drink, to the air I breath, to the groceries I buy.  I am in favor of reasonable regulation to make sure that no one takes unfair advantage, however, we passed that mark many years ago and keep piling on regulation after regulation.  One of the many tenats of the  constitution is  the concept of private property.  My neighbors and I get together to decide if we want to self-restrict, which we do agreeably.  As long as I am not polluting the earth the rest should be up to me.

      The second, is that the government will never stop taking more and more from us (money, freedom, etc.) until we tell them enough is enough and elect more reasonable politicians.  We are “well” beyond that point.  Its time to turn off the kind of thinking that is destroying Europes wealth and find the wisdom in our founding documents. 

      Please stop talking about my private property and mineral rights as though it is some kind of shared public resource.

      • valley person

         Your groundwater, by law is a shared public resource. You have a right to use of it with a permit. That right can be restricted if the resource is being over used. I can’t use my domestic well to water my market crops on my farm. The reason for this is there is not enough water in our shared aquifer for this purpose, and if everyone in my valley started irrigating crops all the domestic wells would dry up.

        What is it about this that so-called conservatives don’t get? You think you just have a god given right to use everything up no matter the cost to your neighbor?

        • The well permit came with limits on use. That’s more than enough regulation and cost. 

          P.S. Have you heard of the riots in Greece? Do you know that more people in Greece work for the government than in the private sector and that there is not enough money being made in the private sector to tax and pay the government created bills? The austerity measures affects those people getting paid by government.  So guess who is rioting?

      • Matthoober

        Water, in Oregon, is a public resource.  It does not belong to the State, OWRD, or the landowner.  The use of water requires a water right, which allows use under the terms and limits of the right.  Exempt groundwater uses, meaning small uses from a well, also do not imply any actual ownership of the water, just the ability to legally use an allowed amount.  Just like driving down a public street, you don’t actually own the road, the public does, you have to get a license to legally operate a motor vehicle on it.

  • Waterwater

    Without this necessary fee people will wantonly use and waste the valuable water trapped in the aquifer below. I say it should most likely be more than what they are planning. It will cost a lot of money to monitor all these fools draining the aquifer at will.
    It is about time government got ahold of these people stealing water that isn’t even theirs. Stealing it blind from the rest of us who might need it someday.

    •  Cities are responsible for diminishing the groundwater supply because they divert rain water to the rivers instead of allowing it to replenish the ground water.  Rural people help restore groundwater supplies.  It is the cities who steal the water from the ground.

      • Crabman34

        Most cities are paved with asphalt and concrete, neither of which is porous (with some recent exceptions).  Plus, allowing rainwater to soak into the ground in Portland would do exactly nill to restore groundwater in the rest of the state.

        You’re speaking out of your donkey.

        • Speaking of talking out of your donkey, exactly how do you think groundwater is restored?

          Really, you don’t think rainwater restores groundwater?

          I see elsewhere you asked about where groundwater comes from.  Let me explain:

          It    falls    out    of   the    sky    as    rain    and    soaks    into    the    ground.

          Did I type too fast for you to understand that time?

          Isn’t it amazing, everyone is trying work up a good freak about water, but have you heard of any projects designed to help improve the rainwater retention and insertion into the groundwater?

          Really, how is it possible that getting more water into the soil is less important that paying taxes to a government agency that has failed at its tasks?

    •  The water belongs to the people and they will not wantonly use and waste water. 

      Your ignorance has left you in fear of humanity and that you won’t get your fair share of something so you would rather punish the innocents ahead of time.

      I hear China and Russia needs a few good people like you.

  • This whole bill is about forcing people, at the point of a gun, to pay more taxes when they have told the government no more taxes, like the mafia thugs who forcefully take what they want, or the rapist who ignores the word “NO”.  

  • Oregonborn

    This message that is proposed above is in a confused manner.
         First I hear/read   ” exempt use well fee”. Does this mean that some will be exempt like the Obama Health Plan ? ( Exempt: to be free from a rule that others must observe).
         Are we (well owners} going to have buy one of them “Well Monitors”, or are the tax payers have to pay for it through, one of them tax credits.
          If we have to pay ” A Tax ” on our well, is then is the goverment guarentee us the finest water quality ?
         Has anyone asked how the WRD is financed at this time ( your taxes ).
          I heard it take an “Act of God”, to even approve a new well in Central/ Eastern Oregon .

         If any of your local senators or representatives are willing to vote for this I would write and write some more, and then I would vote them out if they did not respond.

    • Yes, and if they want to claim such fees, I think they should pay us wages, PERS, vacation & sick pay, and damages for excessive water attempting to wash away our property.

  • I’m a well user, and I pay to pump that water out of the ground, I pay for the equipment that is required, and when it breaks I have to pay to get it fixed..and now you want to charge me to use the water also!
    Where do folks get the idea that the water that flows under the ground of my personal property belongs to the public. Sounds like something out of Agenda 21!

    • Crabman34

      Where did the water come from before it got to your property?  The guy next-door.  And before that?  The guy next to that guy?  You really think that in the moment the water is under your land it is yours to use at will?

      Water is a limited resource and if you use (or pollute) all the water flowing on or under your land, the folks downstream don’t get to use it.  There is a long history of courts, both state and federal, along with legislatures, designing the Public Trust Doctrine which holds that freshwater resources are held by the government in trust for all people to use.  That means placing reasonable limits on how/when/where water can be used.  

      For further reading (not out of some paranoid militia website):  google Public Trust Doctrine, Reasonable Use, Tragedy of the Commons.

      •  Dear Crabman,

        Water is not a limited resource.  Human thinking on the subject is the greatest limit there is.

           “Humans must drink about a gallon of water every day to
        remain alive. Modern urbanites easily consume 100 gal/day  by bathing,
        laundering, and watering lawns, etc. If groundwater or rain is not available,
        there are several little-known alternative methods to obtain fresh water by
        condensing atmosphere humidity. We live in a dilute ocean of aerial moisture.
        There are also real “sky rivers” full of fresh water from which we
        can draw.

            In 1993, Reginald E. Newell
        (M.I.T.), et al., found 10 huge filamentary structures that are the
        preferable pathways of water vapor movement in the troposphere (the lower 10-20
        km of the atmosphere) with flow rates of about 165 million kilograms of water
        per second. These “atmospheric rivers” are bands from 200 to 480
        miles wide and up to 4,800 miles long, between 1-2 kilometers above the earth.
        They transport about 70% of the fresh water from the equator to the
        midlatitudes, are of great importance in determining the location and amount of
        winter rainfall on coastlines.”

        There is no such thing as unpolluted water.  There are degrees of pollution only. It’s the nature of water to be resist being clean or pure. It is not possible for anyone to not pollute water.

        Rural folks’ use of water has the advantage of humic and fulvic acids, and fungal life in the soils to help re-mediate the water they use.

        All water is used on a temporary cycle. Water is a fluid in constant motion within the infinite cycle. The cycle includes the drought line of North America continuing to move North since the end of the last ice age due, in part, to the wind currents coming off of Antarctica. 

  • guest

    What’s next. A tax on breathing?

  • admin

    Return water to title in property and not beneficial use as was prior to 1909.

    This will remove the Water Resources to only dispersing water to title.

    Corporations being a “state born privilege” of cartel will remain as it was prior to 1901, a use subject and limited privilege, that 1 or 2 years nonuse would establish abandonment. (Oregon State Law)

    An “Actual” individual (non corporate) title in water prior to 1909 had the power in that right to use that water once diverted for the “intended use” >>> OR “ANY OTHER” USE or PURPOSE; as it was a right in title of property;

    This would remove the water resources administrative manipulation of private property (prohibiting them from changing rights into state privileges) – and place the Agency (OWRD), if retained – as a form of a one time distributor and recorder of rights of property in water; and then only to serve as a record producer to the courts for the protection of title in property, between title owner and title owner.

    And in subterranean water sources (as in this article) a determination agency to the courts as well, as to amounts duly possessed of each appropriator’s “TITLE” IN THEIR “RIGHTS of PROPERTY and PROPERTY IN THE RIGHT”.

    See Black Pomeroy Treatise on Water Rights 1889 for cases; Page 116 -117

    “RIGHT to Exclusive Use of Water” ” ….. The general doctrine is SETTLED, by the unanimous consent of the authorities, that the prior appropriator is entitled to the exclusive use of the water, up to the amount embraced in his appropriation, either for the original purpose or for ANY OTHER PURPOSE or DIFFERENT PURPOSE, provided the amount is not increased, without diminution or material altercation in quantity or quality; and his use will, to that extent and for such purposes, be protected against all subsequent appropriators, both above and below on the same stream; and to this end he may obtain all proper remedies, legal and equitable. 1″

    Cases Sited: 1 ” Himes v. Johnson, 61 Cal. 259; Stein Canal Co. v. Kern Island I. C. Co., 53 Cal. 563; Reynolds v. Hosmer, 51 Cal 205; Gregory v. Nelson, 41 Cal. 278; Clark v. Willett, 35 Cal. 534; Davis v. Gale, 32 Cal. 23; McDonald v. Askew, 29 Cal. 200; Hill v. Smith, 27 Cal. 476; 32 Cal. 166; Rupley v. Welch, 23 Cal. 543; Pheonix W. Co. v. Fletcher, Id. 482; Natoma W. Co. v. McCoy, Id. 490; Butte, etc., Co v. Morgan,19 Cal. 609; Kid v. Laird, 15 Cal. 161; Kimball v. Gearhart, 12 Caql. 27; Ortman v. Dixon, 18 Cal. 33; Bear River, etc., Co v. New York M. Co., 8 Cal. 327; Ophir Silver M. Co. v. Carpenter, 4 Nev. 534; Barnes v. Sabron, 10 Nev. 217; Strait v. Brown, 16 Nev. 317; Atchison v. Peterson, 20 Wall, 515. ”

    Black Pomeroy Treatise on Water Rights available from or Klare Taylor Publishers

    Richard Taylor – RichardTaylorAPP
    American Patriot Party

    • Crabman34

      What’s up with not CITING Oregon law?  There are plenty of water law cases from Oregon.  I thought you guys were obsessed with states rights…

      • Admin (Richard Taylor APP)

         Black Pomeroy Treatise 1893 (please correct previous date given) offers Common Law that spans a large amount of history…. which includes references to Oregon cases as well…. and the cases sited would be used to determine cases in Oregon courts and across the west or anywhere Common Law is respected which is a “preexisting right in the people that exists whether it is written in a Constitution or not” See Virginia Ratifying Convention 6-16-1788.

        However, you must also realize that Oregon did not become a state until 1859, so this 1887 “second printing” of over 560 pages relates to actual major cases established existing states, back to and including English doctrine cases; which the courts from all states drew from to make their decisions; Including Oregon.

        Even at the time this reprint was printed, the author noted changes that were “unprecedented” in powers states were taking as they moved toward 1901 changes in western water law.

        I have presented some Oregon Law in a reply post below that relates to this issue;

        To show the validity of Common Law still in effect to existing rights to water, Oregon present this law:

        ORS 539.010 “…(4) The RIGHT of any person to take and use water SHALL NOT be “impaired or effected” by “ANY Provisions” of the water right act (as defined in ORS 537.010) where appropriations were initiated prior to February 24, 1909, and such appropriators, their heirs, or assigns did in good faith, and in compliance with the “LAWS THEN EXISTING”,  commence the construction of works for the application of the water so appropriated to a beneficial use, and thereafter prosecuted such work diligently and continuously to completion. However all such RIGHTS shall be adjudicated in the same manner as provided in this chapter.”

        See Also: Lords Oregon Laws 1909, Chapter VI ‘6594, ‘6595, VESTED RIGHTS PRESERVED; The water being put to beneficial use, See 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 & 8. In (2) it presents actual application “…shall be DEEMED to CREATE in such a riparian proprietor a Vested Right….” In (7): “Have in good Faith and diligently procecuted SHALL NOT BE SET ASIDE OR VOIDED.” Crandell vs Woods 1 8 Cal. 132, (1857) “…One who locates upon public
        lands with the view of appropriating them to his own use become ABSOLUTE
        OWNER THEREOF””…The conclusion therefor reached, that the rights of a prior grantee from the United States as “AGAINST ANY SUBSEQUENT APPROPREATORS of WATER, must be REGARDED AS COMPLETE AND PERFECT”

        Cases: 1 Bybee v. Oregon & Co., 139 U.S. 663, Sup. Ct. Rep. 641; Vansickle v. Hanes, 2 the supreme court of Nevada decided…1 2 Sawy. 450; and see Union Mill & M. Co. v. Ferris, 2 Sawy, 176. 3 7 Nev.249. (see Black Pomeroy for others)

        THE PROBLEM, is that the state is “effecting” vested water rights (they are expressly prohibited doing) using “POST” provisions of the water right act to attempt to take and take water and powers held by right holders in the adjudication by:

        a.) use of a persons lack of knowledge of the powers and rights they in fact still possess in that they filled out their claim not knowing their rights and riparian rights 100 years in the past; and not telling them, expecting they or their attorney (who are ignorant of common law water rights) to know.

        b.) attempting to impose POST 1909 “beneficial use” parameters; i.e. what the “state” has determined as beneficial use, which is an arbitrary water per acre amount not established by the soil; …a common law requirement. Or by modern applications and not flood irrigation.

        c.) to make the Right Holder “divide up his right” and pay for “particular” uses, and any other use considered a NEW USE under POST 1909 Law; when under Common Laws (THEN EXISTING) The POWER POSSESSED of a Right to Irrigate, once diverted for that use, could be USED FOR “ANY OTHER USE” such as mining or milling throughout the year without any application to the state.

        d.) to make the Right Holder LOOSE rights he in fact STILL possesses, to use water at “DIFFERENT periods of TIME” during the year; IF he “states in his claim”, (….unknowing the POWER of his right to use his right is YEAR ROUND for any purpose) he irrigated only 8 months, the State attempts to say he would “loose the right” to use that water the other 4 months for “other uses” (because he didn.t claim it or pay a SEPARATE FEE for a different use see (c.) above); and during “that 4 month period”, the State is claiming to have the power to take that water, “remove (TAKE) the power of the right” and give the water to others who claim new rights; or Even more criminal, to give access to those that have earlier rights that overlap into that time period in the winter – Such as Non-consumptive uses, controlled by “POWER COMPANIES” “CITIES” and “UTILITIES”;

        Which under his POWERS of RIGHT under the LAWS THEN EXISTING, the APPROPRIATOR could use that water “any way he wished” during that time AS WELL, should he choose, so long as he did not purposely waste it or retain it without use just so that another couldn’t; This is because the water “under TITLE” by the prior appropriator was held away from any acquisition by others unless it became naturally available, by abandonment or not used by the prior appropriator but not abandoned. i.e. used for any purpose he desired as it was a RIGHT OF TITLE and USE.


        In Ortman v. Dixon it is HELD that a prior appropriator of water for “mill purposes” is “ENTITLED” to the “EXTENT OF HIS APPROPRIATION”, and for those purposes to the EXCLUSION OF ANY SUBSEQUENT APPROPREATION for the SAME AMOUNT >>> “OR” FOR “OTHER PURPOSES”.

        Can you now see the Corruption?

        Richard Taylor
        American Patriot Party

  • Onekmeters

    Yes, of course, what we need is yet another tax in the state of Oregon, or in this country.  Let’s expand a goverment office even more.  Understand that once the goverment has a new tax, it never goes away and it always gets bigger and those employees benifiting from the new tax will develop more requirements for needing even more tax money in the future.  I guess when we are all paying all of the money that we earn in taxes then everyone will be happy.

  • Sanmarco

    In case anyone missed it, it rains a lot here. One thing we don’t have on the west side of Oregon (where nearly all the people live) is a lack of groundwater.

    This is an insidious intrusion into the rights of rural Oregonians, and people who love freedom. Instead of saying “municipal users get regulated, so everyone else should,” instead ask, “how can we increase freedom and decrease bureaucracy for all?”

    I am very disappointed in the number of comments below from people just willing to accept that something as fundamental as the water your drink should be subject to government taxing and control. 

    • valley person

       “In case anyone missed it, it rains a lot here. One thing we don’t have
      on the west side of Oregon (where nearly all the people live) is a lack
      of groundwater.”

      In case you missed it, much of the Willamette Valley is ground water limited, meaning we are pumping more out of aquifers than is replenished. And in case yo missed this one, most of the Oregon Coast has zero groundwater resources. And you may have this memo as well, but Eastern Oregon groundwater is way over subscribed.

      If the rights of rural Oregonians includes pumping groundwater dry, then this proposal is  an intrusion on our rights to be greedy and stupid. 

      “I am very disappointed in the number of comments below from people just
      willing to accept that something as fundamental as the water your drink
      should be subject to government taxing and control. ”

      Its called tragedy of the commons. If you let anyone drill a well and pump out as much water as they want you will drain the aquifer to zero.

      •  In case you missed it, Oregon farmers have just been told, due to climatic changes, they are going to have to change how they farm because it is going to be so WET.

        Also, in case you are ignorant of the fact, all plant life are water pumps that pump groundwater out to the atmosphere.

        • Crabman34

          “Also, in case you are ignorant of the fact, all plant life are water pumps that pump groundwater out to the atmosphere.”
          WHAT??!!  So I don’t need to water my tomatoes anymore?  Please, zanzara, point me to these magical plants with hundred foot long roots.

          •  The reason you have to water your plants is that they suck up all the water available, keep some to grow the body of the plant and the tomatoes and the rest is “transpired” into the atmosphere. 

            A large oak can spew up to 40,000 gallons a year out of the ground into the atmosphere.  “As above, so below” — so, in general, if the tree is 100′ tall, guess how far down the roots might go?

            Field corn plants, while not 15′ tall, have been documented having roots 15′ deep.

            Dude, read some more books.

      •  The government has already been restricting the number of wells drilled and the amount of water used out of them. 

        Paying the government more money will not change the amount of water available.

        Willamette valley people should make the cities in the corridor clean up their storm water runoff and put it back into the ground water.

        But we won’t do that will we because we’d rather retain the status quo than actually deal with real issues, we just want to pretend that we’re doing something viable as a coverup for feeding the PERS machine.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    The idea that the WRD should collect this fee on the basis that it is a public resource is belied by the fact such a fee is only now being contemplated.

    No, lets be real here. The reason the fee is being contemplated is not because of some sudden cost to the government of my pumping my own well water – the reason for the fee is staffing has grown more than is warranted and they want to charge me rather than cut staff.

    People say that those who use a public resource should pay for it.

    I do, I pay for the well, the pump and all the up keep.

    The cost to the government of my well? Zero. They do no testing of the water, nor pumping or replenishing of it. The well has been on my property for 80 years. If government can show me what they have done for my well in that time, or how they have incurred cost I should pay for, Id be happy to consider it, absent my pumping and equipment costs of course.

    I doubt such will be forthcoming. I would suggest it is time for this agency to maybe face the realities that come to most business. If you cannot afford to pay those you have hired, you might actually have to let some of them go.

    Yes – Shocking. They might actually have to lay off people down at the water board.

    Good Lord talk about a problem with a super easy solution.

    • valley person

       “If government can show me what they have done for my well in that time…”

      They may have prevented your neighbors from over pumping the aquifer, which would have resulted in you having to pay for a new, deeper well. As with much of what government does, this is an invisible” benefit. Something you get but don’t have to think much about, like cleaner air.

      The state monitors groundwater capacity by keeping track of wells. That is a service that has to be paid for. The question at hand is how to pay for it. If you would rather take your chances on your neighbors not sucking your well dry, then by all means go for it. I’ve already been there and done that and it cost me $10,000.

      •  The well driller pays for a permit to drill for you and then submits paperwork detailing the nature of the well and output.  When was the last time anyone from the government checked your well for output?  They don’t.

        Even if they did, there is not a thing they could do about it, because the water level is self restricting.  It is a far superior method of control.  In fact, there are subterranean waters available in a number of places, but we’re too constrained by crony capitalism and bureaucratic BS and war mongering to have the wherewithal to access it.

        If they want to restore groundwater levels, they need to restrict vegetation and make those municipalities that shunt rain water to the rivers, clean it up and put it back in the ground where it would have ended up without all the concrete and asphalt altering the cycle.

        • deanfromoregon

           Dude, the government doesn’t check my well for output. They monitor the sum of wells over a given area to see what is happening to the groundwater table. If a bunch of people are drilling new wells 100′ deeper than their old wells, that indicates a declining water table. And yes, they can do something about it. They can restrict new wells used for agriculture.

          I happen to live on a farm in such and area. I can’t irrigate my crops using groundwater from the upper aquifer because that might dry up domestic wells in the area.

          The only way to “restore” groundwater in a rural area is to pump less than is taken out.

          •  Dude, all well’s have levels of restrictions on them. Paying the government more money will not change the amount or quality of water available, but it help government employees avoid, for a little while longer, the collapse of their income like the taxpayers have experienced–they are trying to avoid tasting their own medicine.

  • Matthoober

    The staff of OWRD has NOT increased.  It has, in fact, decreased.  I don’t know where the information about staffing levels came from, but it is incorrect.

  • Kendall Jobe

    This agency is unnecessary and should be deleted. Suggestions for taxing us more are idiotic.

  • HBguy

    In Oregon all groundwater is publicly owned. Like deer, cougar, bears, geese, air, these wild things tend to not recognize human devised borders. The are subject to reasonable use and regulation – no polluting or over harvesting – so that they remain sustainable and retain their economic value for all.

    I may pay for my own gun and bullets, but I don’t get to shoot whatever deer prance across my property. I may have dumped solvents in my creek years ago, that doesn’t mean I get to still do it. and I’d hate it if my upstream neighbor started taking all the water from the creek. 

    I expect someone to manage and assure the availability of our public resources. The free market cannot do it. Unless you want water wars and vigilantism

    So the only real questions are, what is the proper scope of the regulation and oversight, and how should that be funded.

    The OIA post relates largely to funding. I am AOK with those that use a public resource to chip in at least a little for it’s regulation and protection. Question… exempt well owners pay anything more than anyone else in the cost of regulation and protecting of the public resource they tap? It appears they don’t. So a fee to protect their continued free use of a public resource is not only fair, but consistent with the idea of rights and duties and fairness in allocation of the cost of reasonable government regulation.

    •  Your upstream neighbor is already regulated against taking all the creek water.  Western water laws dealt with that issue long ago.

      Fees for use of public resource is unreasonable, unfair and is a scheme to suck more money out of the owners for overpaid government employees.

    • Admin

       The problem with “fees” that are often determined by government Union for the bureaucracy or Union based prevailing “maximum wages” determined elsewhere; and not determined by local consent; And that the tail of the OWRD begins to wag the dog and taxes of government;

      Since “everyone”, including those who do not use the water benefit from organized distribution of water and record maintenance, including keeping the cost of litigation to a minimum, and peace (as someone earlier presented) it should be a “general tax item” just as any other general law or regulation is financed, enforced by local counties who will determine salaries and costs on local consent at he polls (and excluding all union input);

      And again, as earlier posted, a “right” of use “in title” in property attached to the land, to keep invasion of those rights as well as litigation minimal;

      (One should note that OWRD threw out and lost some old records that are needed for the Klamath Falls Adjudication today, many years ago, how many is unknown; An equivalent of burning down court houses, which apparently happened as well in some cases if they spent a little more time protecting records, there would be less need for regulation or litigation)

      The problem with the “state” “owning” water, instead of simply being an arbitrator of rights between “individual title holders”, is that it begins to set ground to take control over every aspect and use (or non use) of it, including how one irrigates his crops etc.; Finally welding the power of condemnation to take water and give it to others in a manner it deems publicly “fair”;

      The communists have been doing this for years; and the state of Oregon under the “beneficial use doctrine” of 1909, has used the “simple” need for organized distribution of water and record keeping, as a way to “SHOE HORN” government ownership and to impose far more control than is needed to keep the peace. Thus reducing a valid “right” into a “privilege”.

      Vested rights, however, remain under the laws and posses the powers of their right at the date the right was established Oregon Supreme Court Ruling;

      ” Reports of Cases, Volume Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon, Volume 114, March 24,1925 to June 1925, Page #116:

      “….Water and Water Courses – Title to Land Obtained Subject to Laws Prevailing. (#26): “Those obtaining title to land take “SAME” subject to “LAWS THEN PREVAILING” “RELATING TO THE APPROPRIATION” OF “WATER” ”

      So the statement that the state owns all the water in Oregon, is not quite correct; Unless you wish to accept “Ex Post Defacto” laws in either civil or criminal cases;

      Which are in fact both EITHER unconstitutional as well as against all principles of common law…Not something that would keep the peace for long, and one of the major causes of wars when property of any type is taken in such a way.

      American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man

      Article 25 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man
      provides in part that “[n]o person may be deprived of his liberty
      except in the cases and according to the procedures established by
      pre-existing law.” The right to be tried in accordance to “pre-existing
      law” is reiterated in article 26.

      Or if you wish to see the

      Absolute Rights of the Colonists 1772 by Samuel Adams:

      In Full:

      “Samuel Adams 1772: “…Thirdly, The
      supreme power (legislative) cannot Justly take from any man, ANY PART of his property
      without his consent, in person


      These are some of the “FIRST PRINCIPLES” of natural law & Justice, and the great Barriers of “ALL FREE STATES”, and of the British Constitution in particular. It
      is utterly irreconcileable to these principles, and to many other
      fundamental maxims of the common law, common sense and reason, that a
      British house of commons, should have a right, at pleasure, to “give and
      grant” the “property” of the Colonists….”

      John Locke, Treatise on Civil Government 1689:

      138. Thirdly, the supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent.  (APP Note: See these exact words in the Rights of the Colonists) For the preservation of property being the end of government, and
      that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and
      requires that the people should have property, without which they must
      be supposed to lose that by entering into society which was the end for
      which they entered into it; too gross an absurdity for any man to own.
      Men, therefore, in society having property, they have such a right to
      the goods, which by the law of the community are theirs, that nobody
      hath a right to take them, or any part of them, from them without their “OWN” CONSENT”; without this they have no property at all. For I have truly
      no property in that which another can by right take from me when he
      pleases against my consent.

      194. Their persons are
      free by a native right, and their properties, be they more or less, are
      their own, and at their own dispose, and not at his; or else it is no
      property……..Can any one say, the
      king, or conqueror, after his grant, may, by his power of conqueror,
      take away all, or part of the land, from the heirs of one, or from the
      other during his life, he paying the rent? Or, can he take away from either the goods or money they have got upon the said land at his pleasure? If
      he can, then all free and voluntary contracts cease, and are void in
      the world; there needs nothing but power enough to dissolve them at any
      time, and all the grants and promises of men in power are but mockery
      and collusion. For can there be anything more ridiculous than to say, I give you and yours this for ever,
      and that in the surest and most solemn way of conveyance can be
      devised, and yet it is to be understood that I have right, if I please,
      to take it away from you again to-morrow?”

      222. The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their PROPERTY; ………whenever
      the LEGISLATORS endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the
      people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put
      themselves into a state of war with the people, …..Whensoever, therefore, the legislative shall transgress this “fundamental rule of society”, and either by ambition, fear, folly, or CORUPTION,  endeavour to grasp themselves, or put “INTO THE HANDS OF ANY OTHER”, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and “ESTATES” of the people, by this “breach of trust” they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for “quite contrary ends”, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and by the establishment of a new legislative (such as they shall think fit), provide for their own safety and security, (APP Note: See this in the Declaration of Independence) which is the end for which they are in society….”

      Richard Taylor
      American Patriot Party

    • Oregonborn

           We realize the OIA relates to funding and they are underfunded at this time, even tho thier wages come from tax payers already. 
            It now takes many years to get a new well in Central and Eastern Oregon, and most of the times it ends up in the court systems. Cost to the landlord and tax payers.
           What is reasonble goverment regulation. Hiring a bunch of “greenies” out of college and having them doctrine what is reasonable? Hey since they have a Masters, but never been in the field, give them a G12 pay scale, or even put them in charge of this newly funded department. So “What is reasonable regulation.”
           Lots of laws are already in place. You buy a piece of property in Central Oregon you get water rights with the property.

          I have lots of concerns about this posssible laws being enacted without a vote from the people.


  • Colddeadhands

    the price that they will pay for my water will be way too high to justify to the voting public. 

  • HBguy

    The comment thread here, particularly the scary comment by Cold dead hands unmoderated and unanswered by editors, and a contributor alleging EPA “Terrorism”, has officially pushed Oregon Catalyst to the edge of loony irrelevancy.

    • valley person

       Its official? I was wondering when. But I agree. This place has tipped over into batshit crazy.

    • EPA

      The place has always been irrelevant. NOTHING is ever accomplished by a bunch of basement dwellers spouting off on issues they know nothing about. NOTHING. EVER.
      Trust me on that.

    •  How can you possibly construe Colddeadhands’ comments as scary but not the inane government zombie comments by Valley Person and others of like ilk such as yourself.

  • Randy L.

    This is ludicrous when you allow a beauracracy to grow and grow the fund it because they do not see enough money in the general fund.  It is time we all tighten our belts not just the citizens but the government included.  As history shows the more money you give the government the more then spend and the less efficient they become. 

    Secondly, the state does own the water below and the surface water.  So where was the WRD, or for that matter any other state agency, when the Federal government tried to take control of the surface water being stored in Klamath Lake.  I will tell where they were no where to be found.  Had the irrigators not sued the federal government, not the state but the irrigators, the feds would have precedent today over the states surface water.   I say when we have a responsible state government that looks after the welfare of the resources in this state we can talk about additional fees for funding.

    Randy L. 

  • Freewater

    We have water rights on a spring/creek that runs across our property. We use what we need, the rest runs back into the creek.  I do not want the government taxing me for that use.  We have been regulating ourselves for over 40 years, we don’t need regulation.  Oregon has plenty of water.

  • PB

    What is next ? Pay for tax on the trees in our yard ? So we have air to breathe…

    •  Ummm, trees are actually net users of oxygen, especially the deciduous kind.  You know, they use oxygen when there is not enough light, the rotting detritus at the base of the tree uses oxygen 24/7 and when there are not leaves on the tree, well,…

      • Ballistic45

         Where did you get this info, my science tells me Photosynthesis takes in CO2 and gives OUT O2…  Even Tree Huggers know this, why not you?

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