Local residents finally had the chance to voice their opinions about South Suburban Sanitary District’s proposed recycled water project for the Reeder Road area Tuesday night. A public hearing for the potential project was originally scheduled for February 25 in the commissioners hearing room of the Klamath County Government Center. That meeting was rescheduled when the number of people who attended far exceeded the room’s capacity. The meeting was then rescheduled twice more due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The recycled water project would mean the construction of a 95-acre storage reservoir and a six-mile, 18-inch pipeline to carry class C or B recycled water from the treatment facility to the reservoir. The recycled water would be used to irrigate approximately 550 acres of fodder crops, like alfalfa and hay. The properties subject to irrigation with the recycled water are located east of Highway 39, north of Short Road, east and west of Reeder Road and south of the OC&E Trail, according to the Klamath County Planning Department.
Tuesday’s hearing in the John Hancock Arena within the Klamath County Fairgrounds was well-attended, even more so than the previous week’s meeting for the same project that’s proposed for the area of North Poe Valley Road.
As with the hearing for the North Poe Valley Road site, no one from SSSD was present Tuesday evening. One member of the public expressed, “The SSSD didn’t even show up tonight, which shows how much they care about our health...”
Members of the public expressed many of the same concerns for the Reeder Road site as they did for the North Poe Valley Road site. The potential for heavy metals and traces of medications from the recycled water to contaminate surrounding soils and wells has been a major worry of many since the project was first proposed.
Though the zone designation for the potential project is listed as “exclusive farm use – cropland,” a number of locals have taken issue with the project being defined as agricultural.
Cindy Landrum, who said she lives “across the street” from the planned site, spoke during Tuesday evening’s meeting and stated repeatedly, “This is a utility infrastructure project, not an agricultural project.”
Landrum also contended that SSSD’s plan “doesn’t provide an emergency flood control mechanism,” which she sees as a major risk that could mean recycled water spilling over into the surrounding area.
A running theme in many of the speakers’ comments was the belief that SSSD has not properly examined possible alternatives to the project.
Scott White, district manager for Klamath Drainage District, said that KDD met with SSSD to discuss the possibility of the sanitary district discharging its wastewater to KDD as an alternative to the proposed recycled water project. SSSD has not yet followed up about that option, White said.
Multiple people voiced the opinion that the reservoir will be any eyesore and will cause an unpleasant smell in the area. The potential for a significant increase in mosquitoes was also mentioned more than once.
Many residents described feeling that SSSD is attempting to allay fears and concerns about the project without concrete science to back up its claims.
No members of the public who spoke at the meeting were in favor of the project as proposed. The vast majority of the written comment submitted thus far is also against the project.
Members of the public can submit comments about the project for the Reeder Road site through July 3 at 5 p.m. As July 3 is a county holiday, the planning office will be closed, but comments can still be submitted online that day.