The following was written by Vic Russell and published in the Newberry Eagle in the March 2007 Issue – it is with Vic’s permission that I have submitted his words for those of you with an interest.
My message starts with a heart felt thanks to all the people of Southern Deschutes County who have come together in a civil manner to work towards an equitable solution to our “Proposed Nitrate Issue”. This is a formidable project for which I believe we will be successful. I have found with the research provided, that our “problem” is based on old and incomplete studies concerning nitrates. (For example: The Center of Disease Control in Atlanta doesn’t consider “Blue Baby Syndrome” due to high nitrates as a reportable disease. The studies don’t list nitrates as the cause.) So the question to be answered is why has Deschutes County allowed this rule to be adopted? What and who will benefit from Deschutes County’s hurry to adopt this rule without the final draft of the completed study. Why does Deschutes County wan tot be positioned to implement this program without the availability of the completed sturdy and to understand and study the results and impact of this “program”? It raises curiosity of the process at that is allowing implementation of an incomplete sturdy – when the final draft of the model that predicts our future demise” won’t be available for public review until May 2007. A brief history starts in the late 1990’s where the Federal Government sold 518 acres to Deschutes County for the future development of a sewer system in La Pine. (The discussion at the time was due to our high water table). The prediction was that La Pine’s water would be contaminated within a decade; nine years later there is no indication of any increased contamination. These results are from the required well testing of each property that has been sold in Southern Deschutes County. This is where the concept of the (TDC’s) Transferable Development Credits, comes from. Simply put, 1500 new homes would be on the La Pine sewer by buying the development rights to 1500 lots outside the New Neighborhood. Long story short – the program was unsuccessful. They sold approximately 120 TDC’s of which about 75% came from county tax lots. The new program (PRC), Pollution Reduction Credits, is another attempt to raise money to help fund our future nitrate problem. There will also be the funds from the sale of the land in the New Neighborhood. Together, the TDC, PRC and land sales will raise in excess of 50 million dollars (yes I am repeating this amount) will not even come close to covering the cost of what the county is proposing in their new rule. I have been unable to find what the “true” cost will be, so the impact of Deschutes County making this decision to spend the county resident’s money should be delayed until we have all the facts. To date the county can not provide enough information on existing systems. The average cost to date is $16,000.00 per system. Assuming there are 5800 existing developed lots, that’s a total of 93 million dollars. Add up the cost to put these systems on the remaining 6000 lots and that’s another 96 million dollars. Considering the amount of money it will cost the home owner for these new systems and that they only address the nitrates, suggests to me their study is incomplete. What will l happen after these systems are mandated and installed and there becomes a possibility of a different contaminating issue in the future? Will the homeowners need to install another type of system? Will we be looking at changing these new systems every time a new contaminant is, in theory, a threat? The convincing position is this is all in the process of being mandated without a complete study.
Planning is to be a tool to enhance and keep the direction of the community in place. It is vital that we are not complacent in allowing planning to omit the truce stakeholders within the process, (in this case the property owners). The decisions made and adopted by Deschutes County will impact us all today, and long into the future. Leading edge technology is the USGS 3 dimensional model that makes prediction for the future based on assumptions. Approaching this assumption as a fact is really bleeding edge technology. At best these assumptions must be validated by the actual facts, leading us to deal with specific problems. Let’s not be too quick to implement expensive, temporary solutions based on assumptions. Our culture today treats everything as an emergency – which can be a waste of talent and effort. I have come to appreciate my future as I am getting older, because I am going to spend the rest of my lifer there. More than ever, my wife, children and grand children will live with the decisions that are being made today. I am committed to doing my part so that we and our families in South Deschutes County can enjoy our future here. I have learned “people prefer a problem they don’t like (because they can find a solution) to an answer they don’t like”(without a solution). To date – the answers have not been substantiated or reasonable. A quote by Alfred Korzybski, Philosopher “There are two ways to slide through life; to believe everything and to doubt everything. Both ways save thinking.” Let’s work together until we have come to a conscientious solution. Vic Russell, La Pine