WEED NINE (Not WAWA) win court battle against Roseburg's intimidation:
weed citizens seek JUdicial review of weed's agreement with roseburg to cut off weed's water supply and more
Roseburg Forest Products above located on EPA Superfund Cleanup Site polluted ground
PHOTO of BEAUGHAN SPRINGS
On December 7th the Roseburg SLAPP suit against the Weed Nine was dismissed in Superior Court. This photo was taken afterward with their attorney James Wheaton.
Feb. 28, 2018. News article in Siskiyou Daily News
Two major questions in Weed water lease lawsuit
The court case challenging what will happen with the City of Weed’s water supply continued on Thursday, February 22, 2018 in Yreka, with attorneys for the City and the Weed Area Water Alliance ("WAWA") making oral arguments on the merits of one aspect of the complex litigation.
After being ignored by the City and after the Council signed the Water Lease Agreement, members of WAWA and several local citizens sued the City, alleging that the City violated the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") by not initiating environmental review prior to the signing.
Judge Karen Dixon heard oral arguments centering on two issues central to the case: Whether the lawsuit was filed in a timely fashion, and whether the City should have initiated environmental review under CEQA prior to signing the WLA.
This news story continues at:
Feb. 27, 2018.
Weed is making available an environmental study called the "2nd Addendum of the Mitigated Negative Declaration on the Bypass Water Supply" Project. This study partially evaluates the impacts of installing new pipelines to send more water from south Weed to north Weed.
There is a copy at the Weed Library and additionally a copy can be reviewed at the City Clerk's Office. It can also be downloaded here:
The Weed City Council is tentatively planning to adopt this study at its April 12th meeting at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall unless the public identifies significant problems with it.
February 15, 2018:
See below for evidence Roseburg has been repeatedly discharging unauthorized pollutants into Weed's surface waters and creeks.
February 2, 2018
Trial on Weed CA Citizens & Weed Area Water Alliance (W.A.W.A.) Lawsuit vs City of Weed and Roseburg Forest Products will be heard in court to protect public water rights and the environment.
From: Weed Area Water Alliance (W.A.W.A.)
Press Contact: Vicki Gold 530.926.4206
We have had major victories with Weed water issues recently. On December 7th the Roseburg SLAPP suit against the Weed Nine was dismissed in Superior Court. Members of Water for Citizens of Weed CA (WCWC) have been actively involved in educating the community and were all in attendance for that hearing and victory celebration. Our First Amendment.org attorneys celebrated with us after their excellent representation in court.
On the same day the Weed Area Water Alliance (WAWA) attorneys were in attendance remotely. Roseburg was ordered to produce their contract with Crystal Geyser Roxane under a protective order. CG Roxane and Roseburg sought to withhold information about their use of water from Beaughan Springs from discovery and the Court ordered Roseburg to produce the documents.
Thursday, February 22th at 9:00 a.m.:
Siskiyou County Superior Court Yreka: WAWA trial/hearing on the CEQA environmental portion of the complaint filed against the City of Weed.
The Courthouse is located at: 311 4th Street, Yreka, with court hearing on 2nd Floor in Board of Supervisors Hearing Room. This is the most important hearing to date. We hope you will show up and show your support for this critical issue! (Time of trial corrected to 9:00 a.m., and rescheduled to February 22, 2018 from earlier announced date of Feb. 9, 2018.))
(The Unfair Business Competition prong of the Complaint against Roseburg will be heard later separately.)
The critical issue to be decided is whether the City’s Water Lease Agreement (WLA) with Roseburg Forest Products should be subject to CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act). The City determined that the WLA is exempt from CEQA and conducted NO ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW even though the WLA contains a number of new provisions that pose Significant Environmental Risks, including:
(1) The City’s immediate loss of 25% of the City’s primary water supply (.5 c.f.s.) from Beaughan Springs that the City and its citizens have relied upon for more than one hundred years.
(2) The City’s loss of the remaining 75% of its primary water supply (1.5 c.f.s.) from Beaughan Springs and all rights to Beaughan Springs upon obtaining an alternate water supply or at the end of the lease term.
(3) The requirement that the City develop “new water supplies” to replace the water from Beaughan Springs.
(4) A provision permitting Roseburg to connect to the City’s main sewer line; and
(5) A provision requiring the City to accept Roseburg’s industrial effluent even though Roseburg sits on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Toxic Waste Site.
Plaintiffs ask the Court to set aside the Water Lease Agreement so that the City can conduct an environmental review regarding these historic changes as required under CEQA.
February 15, 2018
Roseburg admits polluting Weed surface waters with its unauthorized discharges in violation of its permits at least 22 times since 2012:
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on November 20, 2017 issued a Notice of Violation to Roseburg Forest Products concerning pollution at its Weed Veneer facility. The Notice of Violation addresses violations of Roseburg's discharge permit (Order No. 93-86) for unauthorized discharges of process water to surface waters from log ponds located within the facility. Roseburg was caught discharging unauthorized pollution from its ponds. Roseburg has since admitted to unauthorized discharge violations occurring at its Weed facility at least 22 times since 2012.
Known permit violations and enforcement actions are available for public review through the Californian Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS), an online database that you can access at https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/ciwqs/publicreports.shtml.
Search for Roseburg Forest Product under "Facilities-At-A-Glance.
Roseburg has attempted to correct its pollution by upgrading its equipment out of public sight. Roseburg admits in its February 15, 2018 letter to the Water quality control board:
”The pumping system at the Lower Pond (Angel Valley) lift station, which is central to the sites log deck water recycle system, was identified as an improvement opportunity for the management of co-mingled log deck and stormwater runoff. Accordingly, the Lower Pond pumping system was upgraded in the fall of 2017 in order to increase the pumping capacity from the Lower Pond to the upper ponds. The upgrades included installation of an additional pump and larger diameter piping which increased the pumping capacity approximately 30%.”
Roseburg also claimed that its water pollution equipment changes were categorically exempt from CEQA under section 15301 because these were an “existing facility.” Roseburg did not explain how such pollution equipment could be existing if an additional pump and larger diameter piping and a 30%-increased pumping capacity resulted from the changes. Nor did Roseburg mention that any categorical exemption it might claim would be invalid. That is because CEQA has exceptions to the various categorical exemptions when there is a reasonable possibility of a significant water quality impact due to “unusual circumstances” surrounding the project. The polluted ground beneath Roseburg's facility is such an unusual circumstance.
Roseburg did not disclose that the presence of this federally-designated EPA Superfund Cleanup Site on the same ground and beneath some of Roseburg’s operations is an “unusual circumstance” barring that use of a categorical exemption. (“A categorical exemption shall not be used for a project located on a site which is included on any list of hazardous waste sites compiled pursuant to Section 65962.5 of the Government Code.”)
In short, Roseburg has yet to come clean.
June 28, 2016
Weed CA Citizens & Weed Area Water Alliance (W.A.W.A.) File Lawsuit in Federal Court vs City of Weed and Roseburg Forest Products to protect their water rights and the environment.
From: Weed Area Water Alliance (W.A.W.A.)
Press Contact: Vicki Gold 530.926.4206
On June 23, 2016 long-time citizens of Weed and a newly formed citizens group, Weed Area Water Alliance, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Sacramento against the City of Weed and Roseburg Forest Products Company in response to their recent signing of a Water Lease Agreement. The lawsuit challenges the claim by the City that approval of the Water Lease Agreement did not require full review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the federal Clean Water Act.
“As we allege in our Complaint, there is no question that a CEQA review is clearly necessary,” stated Philip Gregory of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy in Burlingame, CA, counsel for the Plaintiffs. “We allege Roseburg Forest Products and Baxter Industries, adjacent to the Roseburg property, are former EPA Superfund Sites. Under the law, it would be both irresponsible and illegal for the City to proceed without proper environmental review.”
The water infrastructure of the City of Weed delivers gravity fed water from Beaughan Springs. Beaughan Creek's path flows through the Roseburg property in unincorporated Siskiyou County, then through the City of Weed and beyond as an important tributary to the Shasta River and the Klamath River. Given that these are waters protected by federal law, they are protected by the Clean Water Act.
Roseburg Forest Products, an Oregon corporation, is reputed to gross $1 billion dollars annually, compared with the City of Weed's annual budget which is between $3-4 million. Weed is still recovering from the significant loss of 153 homes during the September 2014 Boles Fire. Only 50 homes have been rebuilt. The Complaint asserts the anticipated increase of water rates by $30/month is a significant burden for the citizens.
“We brought this case because extending the current lease for 2 years will allow the City time to comply with CEQA and to better protect its citizens,” observed long time resident and former Mayor of Weed, Dave Pearce. “We feel a court will agree with us that the domestic and municipal uses are the highest and best use of the purest mountain spring water. Industrial use for watering logs and for the co-generation plant should not take precedence over the public's access to this water source. Additionally, allowing Roseburg to export water for Crystal Geyser Roxanne to put in plastic bottles is likely a contributing factor to Roseburg's unwillingness to continue supplying water to the City. Apparently Roseburg is counting on the profit from pure Beaughan Springs water both from the City and Crystal Geyser. Roseburg should not control our water, the most important resource of any community.”
Over 100 citizens appeared at City Council meetings to protest the creation of the new Water Lease Agreement, to object to the limited review of the CEQA Notice of Exemption, and to request that Roseburg extend the existing lease for 1-2 years. According to the local residents, this proposed extension would allow time for the City to perform proper environmental and legal reviews to determine a course of action to protect the safety, health, and welfare of the community. During the Water Lease Agreement negotiation process, the City's longtime consulting water attorney resigned. Privately, Roseburg apparently has refused all requests to extend the lease so that proper environmental review could be conducted. Instead, Roseburg allegedly threatened to shut off the water if the City refused to sign the new Water Lease Agreement.
In addition to its obvious environmental impacts, the new Water Lease Agreement will reduce the City's historical use of 2.0 cubic feet/second (cfs) of water by 25% to 1.5 cfs for 10 years with a possible 5 year extension. The Water Lease Agreement also obligates the City to seek alternate water sources within 6 months and to begin acquisition proceedings within 2 years followed by expensive public work projects to set up the plumbing and delivery systems for those sources.
According toJoe Berry, Secretary/ Treasurer of plaintiff Weed Area Water Alliance, “Our Complaint was filed because the City did not do its job to protect the future of the citizens of Weed. While the City is obligated to find new water sources, it is not even clear that suitable sources can be found at any affordable cost. Drilling new wells is unpredictable, in terms of quality and quantity of water.” Berry went on to point out: “The history of industrial contamination in the area makes quality a critical issue even if new sources can be identified. There is no question environmental review is required because adding new expensive infrastructure for high-volume pumping has potential significant consequences for the public and for owners of properties adjacent to identified new wells. The entire contiguous watershed of the Shasta Valley and Klamath River could suffer serious consequences.”
The history of the water lease arrangement is as follows: since its incorporation as a City in 1965, Weed provided Roseburg and its predecessor, International Paper Company, with drinking water, industrial water, and water for fire protection. Roseburg pays only $30,000 annually of the total City Fire Protection costs of $300,000. Although Roseburg's mill is located just outside the city limits, the private corporation has benefited for decades from taxpayer funds. Millions have been spent by the City rebuilding the old redwood pipeline infrastructure with a 12 inch steel pipeline providing water to both Roseburg and the City.
Previously a company town, Weed has had beneficial use of the water for domestic, commercial and municipal purposes for 107 years. The City previously held a 50 year lease with Roseburg for $1 per year in exchange for accepting at no cost the domestic sewage from Roseburg's mill. The new Water Lease Agreement is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2016. However, in the new Agreement, Roseburg requires the City pay the private corporation $97,500 annually increased by 2% each year after the first 5 years.
“In addition to this skyrocketed cost, which must be covered by ratepayers in this economically challenged and fire-ravaged town, the Water Lease Agreement includes provisions requiring Weed to accept future industrial waste (not just domestic waste) for the first time in history,” observed plaintiff Holly Hansard. "As our lawsuit points out, costs for upgrades of the City's sewer system could reach $20 million. An important cost factor is the need to address the toxic chemicals known to be associated with the mill site and co-generation plant. This expense should be borne by Roseburg, not by the citizens of Weed.”
Roseburg also requested Storm Water and Industrial Waste diversion as part of the Water Lease package. Under pressure from the public, Roseburg backed down and the Storm Water component was not approved. The City Council felt that Roseburg was forcing their hand and approved the Water Lease Agreement under duress, yet the City's rush to sign the Notice of Exemption from CEQA failed to protect the citizens and the environment.
“Based on our analysis in the Complaint, the Water Lease Agreement incorrectly assumes that the water in question is actually owned by Roseburg,” Gregory pointed out. “This assumption is not at all clear based on a legal analysis, especially since the existing plumbing and infrastructure from the well are owned by the City. Our lawsuit points out, accessing water from Beaughan Springs will cost Roseburg virtually nothing; it will cost the citizens of Weed millions. Drought and climate change have and are impacting the entire state. Depletion of groundwater has caused wells to run dry. Water is Gold and water privatization is an idea whose time has passed.”
(Update: WAWA's lawsuit was refiled in Siskiyou County Superior Court on October 16, 2016. This lawsuit is scheduled for trial addressing the CEQA environmental violations on February 22, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. in Yreka's Superior Court.)
A copy of the Complaint can be found at the Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy website: http://www.cpmlegal.com/
The briefs filed in court in 2017 and 2018 are viewable at the tab above "WAWA's Legal Briefs."
We love OUR CITY AND ITS WATER. DON'T LET ROSEBURG