Butte Falls, OR — An Oregon couple has been told they must destroy a 2-acre pond on their land — the property’s most attractive feature — because the government said so.
Although Jon and Sabrina Carey purchased the 10-acre property near Butte Falls two and a half years ago, the pond has been in place for 40 years — but that fact doesn’t matter to the Jackson County Watermaster’s Office.
“I basically bought a lemon,” said Jon, who became teary-eyed at the edge of the partially ice-covered body of water being targeted by government, in an interview with the Mail Tribune. “That’s how they explained it to me.”
But the couple desperately wants to keep the stunning longstanding feature in tact, so, as the Mail Tribune reports, the Careys have “pleaded with the Medford Water Commission to adopt the pond and treat it as a municipal water source, something Jackson County Watermaster Larry Menteer has opposed because of the precedent it would set.
“The Water Commission has rights to the watershed around the Careys’ property, where dozens, if not hundreds, of ponds are located, as well as Medford’s primary source of water, Big Butte Springs.”
And the Careys aren’t the only people in the watershed who’ve had difficulties with, well, ‘the government’s’ water.
Eagle Point resident Gary Harrington spent 90 days in jail for illegally harboring some 13 million gallons of illicit rainwater — that’s enough rain to fill around 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Harrington masterfully crafted several ponds on his property — even building docks for one, and stocking it with largemouth bass — but his insistence the water would assist in fire control and prevention didn’t satisfy the government, since a “1925 state law dictates that the water belongs to the Medford Water Commission.”
As Mother Nature Network’s Matt Hickman reported in 2012,
“The bigger story here is that rainwater collection is indeed kosher in Oregon, provided that you’re capturing it from an artificial, impervious surface such as a rooftop with the assistance of rainwater barrels. But an extensive reservoir set-up complete with 10- and 20-foot-tall dams is verboten without the proper, state-issued water-right permits — after all, Oregon law dictates that water is a publicly owned resource — and Harrington did not possess said permits.”
Harrington and the Oregon Water Resources Department waged an extended battle over the ponds, and at one point, it was ruled he would be allowed to keep everything in place — but that decision was backtracked in less than one year.