City officials expect the Talent-Ashland-Phoenix water pipeline to be finished by mid-August to early September — in time to provide emergency water when the Talent Irrigation District cuts off water that has been supplementing the city's drinking water supply.
The city of Ashland began treating irrigation water on June 25 to augment regular supplies from Ashland Creek in the Ashland Watershed.
The Talent Irrigation District plans to shut off that supplementary irrigation water supply in mid-September due to drought conditions this summer.
Many Ashland irrigation customers are already facing the loss of irrigation water because of the diversion of district supplies to the city's potable water needs. Southern Oregon University and the Ashland Parks Department could be among the water users to lose irrigation water.
Construction of the TAP water pipeline is well underway, with 10,000 feet of pipe installed. The second phase of the project, which includes installing an additional 4,000 feet of pipe, has begun, Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught said.
City officials warn that water curtailment measures could still be instituted.
"We're ready to implement curtailment if we have to," Faught said.
The first step of water curtailment involves voluntary measures.
If water supplies dwindle too low, customers will be allowed specific amounts of water and will be billed four times the regular rate for any amount used beyond allowed levels during stages one through three of mandatory curtailment.
In level four of mandatory curtailment, customers who use excess water will be billed 10 times the regular rate for the extra water use.
Faught said Ashland residents are responding well to city messages to conserve water.
"Great job Ashland citizens on managing their water supply," he said.
Water use has been less than 4.5 million gallons per day, even when temperatures began soaring earlier this week, Faught said.
Summer water use can surge past 7 million gallons per day.
The Talent-Ashland-Phoenix pipeline currently brings Medford water to Talent.
For information on city water conservation programs to help residents and businesses reduce use, visit http://ashland.or.us/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=432.