In 2016 our small far northern city of Weed, California faced a serious threat to its main source of pure spring drinking water--water which much of the city has historically depended on for all of its existence. Due to our company town legacy and historical mistakes by state agencies, the water right is in dispute and is claimed by a lumber company, Roseburg Forest Products. Roseburg already sells some water to Crystal Geyser’s water bottling facility in Weed. Roseburg has insisted that Weed phase out its use of the springs in dispute and it is appears likely that the company intends to increase water sales to Crystal Geyser for export out of our community, including to Japan. Roseburg has said the City of Weed should look for alternative water sources such as drilling wells. Roseburg intimidated the City, under duress, into signing a Water Lease Agreement in April, 2016 which would result in a forced phase-out of our community’s use of Beaughan Springs.
In response our citizen group, Water for Citizens of Weed California (WCWC) formed and is working to address this threat to our drinking water in multiple ways. One has been to try to publicize this issue and to try to convince Roseburg Forest Products to “do the right thing” and cease its attempt to take over our water. In this we have had considerable success with local, regional and even national level publicity (see our Media News page). Despite this publicity, however, Roseburg is continuing to hold to its position.
Secondly, we have dug into the history of the Weed water rights. From this research we believe that there is a strong and compelling case that the water in dispute is legally and morally meant for the people of Weed. Therefore we initiated a complaint to our local watermaster district as well as to State water agencies (see the Our Water page for a copy of our complaint). In May, 2017 the Weed City Council voted 5-0 to join our efforts in seeking assistance from State agencies in resolving this conflict. In response Roseburg Forest Products sued the City of Weed, WCWC as well as nine individual Weed citizens they perceived as leaders of the opposition to their water takeover. This was clearly an illegal attempt to intimidate us. We were fortunate to receive the assistance of The First Amendment Project, a law firm which specializes in defending people from illegal intimidation suits of this kind. In December, 2017 our case was heard in Superior Court. The judge agreed that the suit against WCWC and the nine individuals was inappropriate and illegal and dismissed us from the lawsuit! The water rights case continues between Roseburg and the City of Weed, which has filed a counter-claim asserting ownership over the 2.0 cublic feet per second Beaughan Springs water right.
We are also exploring ways in which the City of Weed could be better compensated for the impacts the Crystal Geyser water bottling plant has on our community (truck traffic, noise pollution and, most importantly, the ongoing depletion of our local aquifer). All this is occurring at a time when the City of Weed faces many resource constraints and needs funds to rebuild its sewer, water delivery, streets and fire-fighting infrastructure. Our City experienced a devastating fire in September, 2014 and is struggling to rebuild. Fire prevention/fighting infrastructure remains underfunded. The former Weed fire chief is on record stating that the Beaughan Springs water was essential in the successful effort to contain the 2014 fire.
In 2018, with the lawsuit no longer hanging over our heads, we plan on continuing and intensifying our efforts. We realize that we are not alone and are part of a larger struggle around the country, and the world, of people challenging the privatization of water and working to protect their community resources. Please consider helping us. You can see our Donate page to see how you can make a financial donation to either our Go Fund Me page or to WCWC directly.
Ø 1880s Ditch brings domestic water to Griffin, Williams, Prescott, Morris, and Arbaugh ranches.
Ø 1909 Adjudication 2.0 cfs to township of Weed for domestic and municipal use in name of Weed Lumber Company.
Ø 1932 Adjudication 2.0 cfs to township of Weed for domestic and municipal use, in name of Long Bell Lumber Co.
Ø 1959 2.0 cfs to Weed Water Co. a subsidiary of International Paper Co.
Ø 1961 City of Weed incorporated however, the decree was not changed to reflect this new political subdivision and change in land ownership.
Ø 1966 City of Weed purchases Beaughan delivery, supply and storage systems, for $150,000 and signs a lease with International Paper Co. for 2.0 cfs for 50 years at $1.00 per year in lieu of fire protection, sewer system, domestic water. (No legal challenge from city)
Ø 1982 International Paper Co. closes doors. IP and watermaster agree to give right of 2.0 cfs to the City of Weed, directly ending 50-year lease.
Ø 1996 City of Weed and Crystal Geyser begin to explore Leasing of water. RFP uses 1966 lease, begins selling water to Crystal Geyser. (No legal challenge from City)
Ø 2011 Watermaster sends letter to Weed City stating 1961 decrees were not changed when subdivision property changed ownership and water rights will have to be determined by court. Negotiations begin. RFP says no lease available, want city off Beaughan water. (No legal Challenge from City)
Ø 2014 City agrees to lease .89 cfs from JH Baxter and RFC immediately sues Baxter’s. Suit is settled and RFP now also have this Beaughan Spring water.
Ø 2016 RFP offers city a 10 year lease, price rises now to $97,500 per year with a whole host of other expenses to be paid by city (drainage & etc…) (No legal challenge by City)
Read in detail on 100 years of History part 2