The Klamath County Board of Commissioners denied both of the South Suburban Sanitary District’s applications for sites for a recycled water project Tuesday night, at the recommendation of the county planning commission.
The planning commission debated the legality of the two proposed sites, one on Reeder Road and one on North Poe Valley Road, for a recycled water project that would irrigate fodder crops such as alfalfa and hay.
The commission found several issues with each application, including the Reeder Road location’s proximity to the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport. It noted the potential of the project to attract birds, which could become hazards for airplanes, and concerns over potential soil contamination for nearby homes.
Members of the planning commission were also concerned that the recycled water project was not a long-term solution — that any benefit would only be for about 20 years — and felt the district didn’t analyze potential alternate sites well enough.
The Board of Commissioners upheld both denial recommendations from the planning commission. Commissioners Derrick DeGroot and Donnie Boyd expressed disappointment in the way in which the application process played out, calling out what they saw as a lack of willingness to work together.
The verdicts came after public hearings for the proposals had to be rescheduled to the Klamath County Fairgrounds. Residents wishing to voice their concerns exceeded room capacity at the Government Center.
Mike Fritschi, general manager of the SSSD, said the district "is disappointed with the board’s denials" and said it believes the county "erred in denying both projects.”
With both applications denied, Fritschi stated that the SSSD is reviewing its options and will “strongly” consider appealing the decisions to the Land Use Board of Appeals. He also noted that the county requires the project to be approved by the Department of Enivronmental Quality and feels that people’s concerns about the project will be resolved during that permitting process.