Amid drought, some worry water from Medford Water Commission is going to illegal use

MEDFORD, Ore. – With many local jurisdictions facing water shortages farmers are becoming increasingly concerned about people using water for illegal use. The Medford Water Commission said that could be true, but they don’t know.

Folks were filling up at the Medford Water Commission’s Filling Station on Columbus Drive in West Medford. Many told NBC5 News the line can sometimes be about two hours long nothing like it was in the early afternoon. There were about two cars at a time. It’s the only filling station in Jackson County where people can pop in some quarters and get a large amount of water.

“I’ve heard all the stories, I’ve seen rigs here with no tags on it whatsoever,” said Jim McDonald has lived in the Rogue Valley since the 1970s.

He and many others are worried about this extreme drought. He said some of this water may be going toward illegal marijuana use and possibly even grows in Siskiyou County. That’s where the County created a new law this spring that prevents water trucks larger than 100-gallons from going on a few select roads. The county said it’s designed to curtail illegal marijuana growth.

“We don’t know what it’s being used for, but at the same time they are purchasing it,” said Brad Taylor, General Manager of the Medford Water Commission.

People pay one quarter and get about 200 gallons of water. He doesn’t know if people are coming to the Rogue Valley and taking water away. Even if it were happening he doubts it’s a profitable venture.

“They’re expensive to haul, so I think that’s probably the limiting factor in terms of the viability of taking it too far out of the area,” said Taylor.

The Medford Water Commission is already asking people to conserve water in this drought. As this scorching summer unfolds that may mean the Medford Water Commission changes that request to a rule mandating less water at this fill station. But the agency told NBC5 News water levels aren’t inadequately low.

NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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