People who grow food in their gardens won't get a price break for high water use if low water supplies prompt curtailment measures in Ashland.

People who grow food in their gardens won't get a price break for high water use if low water supplies prompt curtailment measures in Ashland.

During last summer's water curtailment, some residents complained that their gardens dried up when they complied with the restrictions.

People who use more than their allotted amount pay higher prices for additional water during curtailment.

Gardeners' concerns prompted the Ashland City Council to consider whether residents with food gardens could receive 25 percent more water than normally allotted during curtailment without being hit with higher prices.

On Tuesday night, the council voted 5-1 not to give the price break to gardeners.

Councilman Russ Silbiger said while the council wants to promote home gardens, managing the price break system would have put too much burden on city staff.

Before granting a price break, city staff would have had to confirm each person had a food garden and had instituted all applicable water efficiency improvements, according to proposed ordinance language that was scrapped by the council.

Councilman Eric Navickas said if people keep an eye on their meter readings during water curtailment, they should be able to use some water to keep their gardens alive.

Silbiger, Navickas and fellow council members David Chapman, Kate Jackson and Greg Lemhouse voted not to give gardeners a price break during water curtailment.

Councilwoman Carol Voisin, a vocal advocate of local food production, wanted the price break for gardeners.

When snow and rainfall are light, not enough water flows into Reeder Reservoir from the Ashland Watershed.

U.S. Forest Service snow surveys done on Mount Ashland on April 30 showed the snow water content was 106 percent of normal.

In December 2009, the council unanimously approved a $366,966 contract with Portland-based Carollo Engineers for a comprehensive water supply, conservation and reuse study that will look at a variety of possible water sources for the city.

Prior to 2009, the city of Ashland last faced curtailment in 2001.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.