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Scammer claims Ashland water's unsafe to drink

 Posted: 2:40 PM July 11, 2014

Ashland officials are warning residents not to fall for a scam in which a person selling bottled water is claiming city water is unsafe to drink.

The person has said the city is using water from Emigrant Lake and cannot properly treat that water at its water treatment plant.

Both claims are false, said city of Ashland Public Works Superintendent Mike Morrison.

"Our water is just as safe as it's always been," Morrison said, noting it passes state health standards. "It's perfectly safe."

The city is using Ashland Creek water flowing into Reeder Reservoir above town as well as Talent Irrigation District water. Both water sources are mixed together and then sent through the water treatment plant.

The city has been supplementing its regular reservoir water with the TID irrigation water in order to make Ashland's water supply last as long as possible during this summer's drought.

Ashland has treated TID water to make it potable in past drought years. The water originates from Howard Prairie Lake and Hyatt Lake, city officials said.

Morrison said the person selling bottled water is also claiming Reeder Reservoir has run dry. In fact, the reservoir is still full, he said.

Morrison said it's not clear whether the person works for Mt. Shasta Spring Water or is pretending to work for that company.

Bob Hershey, Southern Oregon district manager for the bottled water company, adamantly denied any employee was making false claims about the safety of the city's water to boost sales.

He said another bottled water company may be attempting to harm Mt. Shasta Spring Water's reputation.

"It's slander. It's false. It's not anyone who works for me," Hershey said.

He noted he lives in Ashland himself.

"Is city water consumable? Of course. There is a shortage. That doesn't mean it's undrinkable," Hershey said.

Residents who have been contacted by anyone using drought scare tactics to sell anything are asked to contact the Ashland Public Works Department hotline at 541-552-2431.

— Vickie Aldous

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