An aquifer is a body of permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater. For many people in many locations, aquifers supply water to their homes or businesses via wells and springs. For more detailed information about how aquifers work, please visit the USGS.gov site on the topic.
The Chehalem Mountain Groundwater Limited Area
Our area is located on a a basalt rock formation belonging to the Columbia River Basalt Group. This area and its capabilities have been studied for decades and measures have been implemented in order to maintain sustainable use of resources. Our aquifer is considered “classified” and groundwater use is monitored and restricted to avoid adverse impacts. This makes sense, as we don’t want to endanger our future water supply!
So what’s the problem??
The property owners of 18505 Jaquith are proposing to build a well and irrigate a large crop of marijuana and related products which could undermine the productivity of the local residents’ wells, and affect their senior water rights. If enough water is allowed to be used from this well, it could affect many people throughout the area, not just the closest neighbors.
How do we know this?
Two separate hydrologist firms were consulted on the issue of the pending well drilling and irrigation plan for 18505 Jaquith. They surveyed nearby wells of neighbors and they used their expertise to make predictions for future water viability as well as suggestions for the final ruling by the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) in the case of the wells and irrigation proposed at 18505 Jaquith. One expert testimony concluded that:
“A water-supply well for this hemp facility is located among many water wells, the water-supply well that is pumping the needed 58,000 gallons per day would be like drawing water for more than 100 new dwellings in a tight area. The Basalt aquifer could not keep up with it and a sharp water level decline would begin within a year. This daily volume of water would conflict with the original intent of the Groundwater Limited Area declaration of 1991. OWRD is not going to approve this site plan. I cannot recommend a hemp facility here.”-Rehm Geological
“Based on our analysis CwM recommends that the Department deny additional development of groundwater within the Columbia River Basalt Group due to the high potential for injury to existing senior water users and surface water certificate holders, potential injury to state and federally list fish species, and limited groundwater availability at the top of this groundwater flow system.”-CwM-H20, LLC
Despite this, OWRD changed its initial review from “Propose to Deny” to “Propose to Approve” citing “a managerial decision”. We need this issue to be investigated with the help of legal counsel and more expert testimony.
Want to read the full hydrology reports? Download the pdf files by clicking below!