The Oregon House of Representatives took a first step toward fixing Measure 37 today. Reform legislation will be sent on to the voters via a ballot referral, with voting to take place in September or November.
But it's not enough. A hold, or "time-out," needs to be placed on Measure 37 subdivisions to prevent a lot of damage from occurring between now and the vote.
My wife and I know whereof we speak. Along with several dozen neighbors, we've been fighting Leroy Laack's plan to put 43 homes and 43 wells on nearby groundwater limited farmland.
Today we got some good news.
Russ Bunker and Matt Kohlbecker, hydrogeologists who contract with Marion County to do peer reviews of Hydro Review reports prepared to justify development in a groundwater limited area, rejected a report submitted by Laack's consultant, Malia Kupillas of Pacific Hydro-Geology.
Here's the five page PDF report: Download peer_reviewlaack.pdf
What this shows is something pretty obvious: land designated "groundwater limited" almost always truly has limited groundwater. That's why the reform legislation limits Measure 37 subdivisions in such areas to three homes.
Yet the Marion County Planning Commission had given Laack permission to build 27 homes. He appealed, asking for 43 homes.
If our local Keep Our Water Safe Committee hadn't been able to raise enough money to hire GSI Water Solutions' Larry Eaton and Walter Burt to refute Malia Kupillas' erroneous Pollyannish contention that there's plenty of water for both the subdivision and existing uses in the surrounding neighborhood, this Measure 37 claim could have moved forward.
As will quite a few claims in groundwater limited areas between now and September or November, if legislators don't pass a companion bill to the ballot referral that puts a time-out on all Measure 37 subdivisions. Or, failing that, at least a hold on subdivisions in groundwater limited areas.
This is no joke for those of us who rely on wells. My wife and I, along with numerous others, have testified before the Land Use Fairness Committee to this effect.
But so far the only response has been a half-baked referral to the voters. "Half-baked," because it doesn't do property owners any good if a Measure 37 fix is approved after the damage to the aquifer on which they depend already has happened.
I've been critical, here and here, of the Democrats' efforts so far regarding Measure 37. However, they can bring a smile to my face if a hold is put on subdivisions. 1000 Friends of Oregon is pushing for this (about sixth paragraph down).
If you live in Oregon, please click on the previous link and follow the URL path to your state senator's email address. Email the governor also.
Tell them that unless a time-out is put on Measure 37 subdivisions, the vote next fall will be meaningless for those affected by the subdivisions that have been able to move forward during the next six months.