Weekly Update 2/23/21

February 17, 2021  

Current WAG HOLDINGS LLC APPLICATION G-18843 STATUS:  

On 6 Month Administrative Hold #2 which expires July 5, 2021  

CALL TO ACTION: WRITE EMAILS OF OPPOSITION TO OWRD 

We have been advised by our Water Attorney that we need you to email OWRD and submit your comments in opposition. Doing so will continue to “Build the Case” against permitting an irrigation well on top of Chehalem Mountain.  You are encouraged to write often as new information is released to help build our case.   

Comments submitted to OWRD need to be positive and supportive so that staff will consider them a valuable resource to enhance their review and evaluation making them think more about whether or not the application does or does not meet their standards of approval.  

THIS WEEK’S KEY TALKING POINTS & EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR OWRD: 

TO:         Kim French, OWRD Water Rights Application Specialist  Kim.R.French@Oregon.gov  

CC:         Alyssa Mucken, OWRD Water Rights Section Manager  Alyssa.M.Mucken@Oregon.gov  

Subject Line:   Application G-18843 Please Add to the File  

Residents of Yamhill and Washington Counties have found that local government is not taking responsibility to address or resolve the basic issue of protecting our water resources in areas of known limited ground water and changing agricultural products and processes. 

For example, Yamhill County has the following SITE DESIGN REVIEW STANDARDS to consider when making their land use determinations, but they refused to consider limited groundwater as an issue when approving the land use for the application before you: 

Section 1101.02(A)(1) Characteristics of the adjoining and surrounding areas.  The applicant’s response noted that the nearest property to the West appears to be a residence that is used for an agricultural Farm use.  In reality, it is a 1-acre parcel with house and well YAMH57902 located less than 200’ from the property line and the well proposed by Pacific H-G. Additionally, the property line to the South (YAMH913) was given as Mt. Top Rd. – the property line for that residence actually includes a narrow strip on the North side of Mt. Top Rd. as well.  These are just two examples of incorrect information known to Yamhill County Planning and yet failed to consider.  OWRD must hold applicant, WAG Holdings LLC to account for such discrepancies. Section 1101.02(A)(7) Comments and/or recommendations of adjacent and vicinity property owners whose interests may be affected by the proposed use.  Testimonials by neighbors were clear that having to deepen or drill a new well would place undue burden on adjacent and nearby residents, many of whom are retired or on fixed income, and are VERY CONCERNED about the potential impact a substantial irrigation well will have on the surrounding wells.   

Yamhill County Planners and Commissioners simply dismissed these issues as not being within their purview.  The applicants did not even bother to solicit comments from adjacent property owners until late in the process as noted in the applicant’s rebuttal (Docket SDR 28-19).  

EXAMPLE OF WORDING FOR YOUR EMAIL:

We request that Water Right Application G-18843 be denied because of the potential hydrological interference to surrounding wells in this ground-water limited area, and the lack of a short- or long-term program to collect adequate and accurate data to monitor and determine negative impacts. However, if consideration to approve is granted, we strongly request that the following “conditions” be attached to that approval:  

  • Considering the effects that the exponential growth of vineyards and cannabis industry are having on Oregon’s water resource, OWRD must insist the applicant will be held accountable for well monitoring programs, especially in Critical & Limited Areas, as noted in Oregon’s I.W.R.S., Recommended Action 1.a, to “ENSURE HIGH-QUALITY GROUNDWATER MEASUREMENTS, INSTALL MEASURING TUBES AND MAKE SCHEDULED MEASUREMENTS” as directed by OWRD. 
  • OWRD “conditions” should require the applicant to install an observation well in accordance with accepted well construction standards. 
  • As a minimum, the applicant must be held accountable to provide all necessary means and equipment to rigorously monitor wells surrounding their proposed well in accordance with OWRD standards. 

     In addition, Plans, Strategies and Forecasts need to be revised as soon as possible to include the following items regarding wine grape-vineyards and cannabis-hemp operations: 
  • Conditions and criterion, especially in the Upper Willamette Basin Area, should be reviewed and updated to reflect the current situation regarding population growth, wine grape-vineyards and cannabis–hemp operations.   
  • Data from well servicing completed by well constructors and service/pump installers should be added to OWRD well files.  Data to include, Depth, SWL, Set, and other data deemed necessary by OWRD hydrologists to provide more aquifer health data for decision-making. 

FYI – BRIEF BACKGROUND ON WAG Holdings LLC APPLICATION AT OWRD: 

On October 21, 2019, Pacific Hydro Geology Inc, submitted an application to Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) on behalf of their client WAG Holdings, LLC for a permit to use groundwater. Application G-18843.  

On August 28, 2020 the Applicant filed an “amended well location” which moved the proposed location of the well 1,170 ft north on the property.  

OWRD will issue a PR0POSED FINAL ORDER (PFO) to either APPROVE or DENY the well if the Applicant does the following:  

  • Supplies required condition information  
  • Requests the hold be lifted, and OWRD approves, OWRD will then issue a Proposed Final Order.  If the Proposed Final Order status change is to APPROVE, there is a 45 day period to file a PROTEST.  Normally, OWRD may not allow further PUBLIC COMMENTS following the PFO.  

  However, in this case:  

  • The Applicant has not responded to OWRD request for additional information they required WAG Holdings, LLC to submit by July 26, 2020.   
  • On August 28, 2020, the Applicant filed an AMENDED WELL LOCATION moving the proposed location 1,170 feet north on the property.  
  • Hydraulic interference with a Chehalem Creek in the original INITIAL REVIEW cited the need for a DIVISION 33 REVIEW to evaluate effects on Sensitive, Threatened or Endangered fish.  Changing the proposed location only serves to increase the chance for similar interference with 3 tributaries of Mc Fee Creek on the north side of Chehalem Mt.  

*** PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO EMAIL OWRD TO REQUEST THEY DENY THIS APPLICATION ***

Further Reading:

Oregon’s 2017 Integrated Water Resources Strategy

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