Ashland residents bemoaning the pending project to pipe a two-mile section of the Ashland canal should recognize the benefit of conserving water and keeping fecal contamination out of Ashland Creek.
The canal in question is an irrigation ditch that carries water from the Talent Irrigation District canal through the city, emptying into Ashland Creek. The city has long planned to replace the leaky canal with a pipe, and now is poised to start the work, but neighbors who are fond of walking their dogs along the ditch don’t want to see it covered up.
Why must the city pay for it, they ask. Why isn’t the rest of the TID system being piped? How can piping just a two-mile stretch protect against E. coli bacteria when water enters the city from miles of open canal?
u The city is responsible for the canal inside city limits. It has no say over what TID does with its canals.
u It’s just two miles, but a study performed in 2011 found E. coli counts increased dramatically after the water entered the city, and spiked during rainstorms, which tend to wash animal waste into the canal.
E. coli contamination often closes Ashland Creek to wading in Lithia Park in the summer months. And allowing 30 percent to leak or evaporate is irresponsible given the reality of climate change.
The city should preserve access to walkers along the canal route, but they’ll have to live without the open water. It’s a ditch, not a creek.