MINUTES FOR THE CONTINUED REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
April 19, 2000
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Council Chairperson Steve Hauck called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m., in the Civic Center Council Chambers, Mayor Shaw arrived late.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Wheeldon and Fine were present, Hanson arrived late.
CONTINUING DISCUSSION OF WASTEWATER EFFLUENT MANAGEMENT OPTIONS
Public Works Director Paula Brown presented to the council a compressed schedule on how staff planned on meeting the DEQ deadlines. She stated that Bob Eimstad from Carollo Engineers will return at the May 2nd council meeting with final memos on each of the options for council discussion. She clarified that the council will be asked to make a final decision at the May 16 meeting in order to present as much of a 90 percent proposal to DEQ by June 3rd.
Brown explained that there are two options being considered on the off-site in regards to revised sprinkler heads. The options are: 1) continuing with the pasture grasses by doubling number of sprinklers, and 2) an interest in poplar plantation.
Brown stated that final discussion will include the following: 1) Water Quality Management Plan and how the city proposes to get water back into the creek, when the creek needs the water; 2) Final discussion on how the phosphorous standards are set by the TMDL’s and DEQ; and 3) What the RVCOG data means and what it was generated for. She explained that she will provide as much information as possible, on the temperature and phosphorous removal of which will include costs.
Brown stated that she has asked DEQ, DLCD, Department of Agriculture and the Health Division to attend the May 16th meeting. She felt that it was is important to hear from these agencies and allow for further questions and clarification. Brown requested that council confirm that she has addressed all of their concerns and is on the right track.
Brown clarified for the council that she had asked DEQ to prepare a memo on how the TMDL’s were developed. In addition, she has asked for the Department of Forestry’s information on background phosphorous levels in Ashland Creek.
Brown discussed the idea of a pilot study being conducted in the Applegate, and explained that such a study would bring all the right agencies together to discuss how much water is in the creek and what kind of water is in the creek. She explained that while this may relate to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, it is not the solution to the Wastewater Treatment Plant effluent issues.
Reid commented that in order to get assistance from the Governor’s office, the city would have needed to have approached DEQ first. She questioned how the city was going to ask DEQ for additional time so that the Governor’s office could then lend support. Brown stated that she does not know if the city has time, that time was previously asked for in 1994 and she feels that DEQ is out of time. She explained that if we do not give DEQ a plan on June 3 and do not have reasonable justification for additional time, she does not see DEQ granting any additional time. Reid questioned how we expect to get more time if we do not ask for it. And emphasized that the city continues to be under a great deal of pressure.
Freeman suggested that staff continue with the project as planned and explained that the council will be making a final decision on May 16, which will clearly direct staff, depending on what option the council chooses.
Carollo Engineers’ Bob Eimstad clarified for the council that his firm does not have a contract, nor is it in their scope of work, to create a design plan that would reduce phosphorous through the new wastewater treatment plant. He explained that the contract with their firm was to design the wastewater treatment plant and the spray irrigation facilities. Eimstad stated that, if the council were to ask their firm to design a plan, an ambitious design schedule would be about six months with the assumption that they could resolve the permitting issues that are still outstanding.
Brown clarified that the meeting scheduled on May 2, and the information that will be provided at this meeting, will give the council more clarity on how to ask for an extension. She explained that at this point, she wouldn’t know what the extension was for or how to ask for it. She stated that staff needs to show reasons for the extension with substantial information that backs up the request. Reid felt that the council had asked staff to continue to pursue the in-stream option and stressed the importance of strategy.
Reid commented on her understanding that an OSU Extension Professor, who accompanied a group looking at the spray irrigation site for possible poplar plantation, had brought up two possible problems associated with poplar planting. One was absorption rate before the poplars are two years of age and keeping the grasses down until they are able to survive by the use of herbicides. She hoped that these two issues would be brought up under discussion when the poplar plantation is proposed. She also mentioned that she hoped there would be discussion at the May 2 meeting regarding whether the Department of Agriculture wanted to be a part of poplar plantations.
Eimstad stressed the importance of staff knowing if the information that they are preparing is the information that the council needs in order to make a difficult decision.
Laws voiced his comfort with what is before the council, but feels that it would be a mistake to ask DEQ for an extension. He requested information from staff on what the best estimate of costs would be for an in-stream solution that includes figures addressing the temperature issues.
Brown clarified for council that if the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife is unable to attend the May 16 council meeting, she will make sure that they are contacted through the water quantity management plan. She confirmed that staff will address drip irrigation at the spray irrigation site.
Wheeldon requested that the temperature issue is separated out from the discussion regarding tertiary treatment costs, so that it does not get confused with the "what if’s" of wetlands. She felt that it was important to have a choice that has solely to do with bringing down temperature if a wetland doesn’t work.
Council concurred with Eimstad’s summarization on the following options to discuss: 1) Going in-stream with high tech treatment facilities; 2) Discharge into the creek out of the wetlands; 3) Continuing with pasture grass, but use low trajectory and smaller sprinkler heads; and 4) Alternate agricultural practices which are conducive to smaller sprinklers or a drip irrigation system.
Brown clarified for the council that al of the Federal Agencies are not yet talking about the Endangered Species Act and all the other issues that have fallen out because of the Clean Water Act. Eimstad shared information that he gathered at a conference where discussion took place in regards to setting water quality standards. It was determined that they all needed to set the same standards and process to protect fish and then have DEQ and EPA enforce these regulations. Unfortunately, not all were prepared to make this kind of commitment due to conflicts between agencies and the difficulty in how these two pieces of legislation are being administered.
Wheeldon voiced her feeling of, "out of integrity," that the city cannot get through this first step. She explained that this is what is driving her reticence in trying to string this out.
Laws commented that there have been problems associated with getting needed information and decisions and that this has slowed down the process. He stated that what will be important to him, in making a decision in favor of putting the water back into the creek, is going to be that there could not be any future demand put on the city, to put the water back into the creek that we are taking out in order to make a quantity problem.
Eimstad clarified for council that they would not be able to bring back a plan that would integrate going in-stream with high tech and using discharge into the creek out of the wetlands by the May 2 meeting. He explained that they could come up with what it would cost to treat for various levels of phosphorous reduction, but it would not include information on how much wetland area would be needed to correspond to those various levels of phosphorous reduction to meet the .08 level. Eimstad stated that the high tech solution merged with wetlands has no need for a fishery biologist’s involvement. He feels that it would be necessary to have a fishery biologist do an assessment on exactly where there is a need to determine water temperature levels. He explained that the water quality standards result in permit limits, and that the permit limit drives the treatment plant design.
Shaw cautioned the council that we may be trying to fix problems that we have not been asked to fix. She felt that we would do better to see what we can accomplish with our wastewater plant and then see if the wetlands can pull out the phosphates.
Laws noted a memo that was submitted by city administrator and requested that the council discuss the short and long-term effect of the wetlands demonstration. Wheeldon stated that the proposed experimentation for the wetland project will not help in this particular problem. She does not feel that we should give up looking at wetland solutions for the long term. She questioned if the city should commit itself to this project right now.
Reid voiced her concern on receiving the memo from staff and felt that the council had held a prolonged, deliberate discussion regarding the wetland proposal. She stated her concern with dismissing the vote that the council had made, the presentation that had been held, and the public hearing.
Wheeldon questioned why the city was considering contracting with Cascade Earth Science again when she felt that they had not done a very good job. Reid reminded the council that there were adverse impacts to the project due to the Greenway, the heavy equipment from the treatment plant project and failure from our consultants.
Laws stated that the council had been presented with new technology that has never been used to treat sewage treatment plants and that the only information came from individuals who had self interest. He felt that the council had made a hasty decision and would like to retract from this decision. He voiced his interest in the technology of wetlands, but is uncomfortable with spending more dollars to replace what may be in place and is successful.
Councilors Laws/Fine m/s to reconsider vote for approval of $125,000 additional funding for modification to wetlands demonstration.
DISCUSSION: Shaw noted that there had been complaints from the Wetlands Coalition regarding the performance of CES implementing the test project. She suggested that this is an opportunity to stay at the table in regards to wetlands, but that the city should hold to the $125,000 amount requested. Shaw reminded council that Dr. Gearhardt had told the council many years ago that for this type of wetland, it would take about 200 acres. She suggested that references be checked for the consulting firm and about the process that is being used in Florida. Shaw noted if we want this community to feel committed to a spray irrigation project, the city needs to continually exhaust all possibilities regarding new technology and cost evaluation.
Fine voiced his support to reconsider the motion. He believes that the city should stay in wetlands, but find another way to do it. He stated that if the city was unhappy with the performance of these consultants, why should we believe that language in a contract would make us satisfied with their performance. He commented that this is an experiment and that there is no time for experiments.
Reid explained that staff did not blame the consultants for the problems associated with the wetland project, but rather that there were impacts from the Greenway and Wastewater Treatment Plant projects and to put all of the blame on the consultants is wrong. She expressed her desire to look to the future.
Laws questioned if we know enough and have enough confidence in the individuals involved in terms of the future and not the past. He stated that there is a need to contact other agencies that have worked with this company and voiced concern that there is no literature on a project that has processing for five years. He does not believe that there is enough time to accomplish what needs to be done by this summer and if it is not done this summer is doesn’t do any good to do it all. He stated that the council should support the motion to reconsider and then to put it back on the table to vote down.
Brown explained that 3-6 months of data will not give council, Carollo Engineers or DEQ enough information or adequate data to make a decision. She stated that if the council wants to do this, they should look at an 18-24 month analysis.
Hanson would like to look at the wetland project as a project in its own right. He understands that there isn’t adequate time allowed to get the necessary data in terms of treating water, but would like to see the wetland project continued. Laws pointed out that by the time adequate information was provided, another alternative would have already been launched that the city is committed to. He questioned how the wetland would be applied when another alternative was already in place.
Wheeldon stated that she does not want staff to spend any more time on anything else other than what can be implemented in time to start cleaning up our water. She voiced her support of looking at the pilot wetland in a year, in order to collect data for the amount of time that is needed, in order to make a decision, with the possible implementation in twelve years.
Reid requested that the motion include evaluation of the firm and information in hand from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. She feels that we are cheating ourselves if we do not look at wetlands as a part of a higher tech plan.
Shaw made clear her position in not asking DEQ for more time. She does not feel that evaluating the wetland is about asking DEQ for additional time.
Hauck noted that he is not willing to do non-natural means for putting the water back into the creek.
ROLL CALL VOTE: Laws, Hanson, Wheeldon and Fine, YES; Reid and Hauck, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
Councilors Fine/Hanson m/s to table the motion regarding the wetland demonstration for an indefinite time. VOICE VOTE: Laws, Hanson, Wheeldon, Fine and Reid, AYE; Hauck, NAY. Motion passed 5-1.
Councilor Fine left the meeting at 1:30 p.m.
Cate Hartzell/881 E. Main St./Questioned if additional RVCOG data has been considered and is the cost of litigation for temperature being recalculated was being considered. She clarified that RVCOG has negotiated Memorandum of Understandings between all the relevant agencies and have been meeting for more than two years. Brown clarified that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODF&W) will be addressed in the Water Quantity Management Plan and will check to see if these agencies can be invited to the council meeting. Hartzell also suggested that if the option involving spray irrigation changes, the city should consider selling the property as a means of offsetting project costs. She requested that the internalized costs be externalized for public information.
Eimstad clarified that there are continued challenges involved in coordinating the agencies in regards to the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. He stated that the purpose is to protect fish population and that there is no economic consideration.
Shaw stated that it is incumbent upon the city to keep an open dialog with the agencies that will affect the city or that the city would affect through our process.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Establishing the Name of Old Masonic Walkway to be Applied to the Public Walkway at 25 N. Main Street.
Councilors Laws/Hanson m/s to approve Resolution # 2000–09. DISCUSSION: Council questioned the name "Old Masonic Walkway." Roll Call: Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, and Wheeldon, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS None
Meeting was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder