Ashland residents — and institutional members of the community such as Southern Oregon University — deserve credit for stepping up to the challenge of conserving water during a drought year that is likely to get worse before it gets better. But everyone needs to remember that it is a communitywide problem, and a true community response means not pointing fingers at each other.
During a "Drought Summit" Wednesday in Ashland, City Manager Dave Kanner praised Ashlanders for their conservation efforts, calling it "one of the most remarkable responses to action I've seen in my 25 years of city administration."
Reeder Reservoir is still full, but it may not last the rest of the summer if weather predictions hold true. Kanner made it clear the situation is dire, and raising curtailment to the stage three level is still a possibility if the reservoir drops too low. That would mean rates would quadruple for water consumption above twice the normal winter residential usage.
Although residents have done their part, it hasn't been without some griping, including letters to the editor accusing SOU of excessive watering of its extensive lawns while residential yards turn brown.
Mike Oxendine, SOU's facilities supervisor, told the summit the university has invested $100,000 upgrading its irrigation system, and has set a goal of reducing its water use by 30 percent this year. That's a significant reduction by a major water user, and a mark many residential users would do well to match.
Ashland is working to connect to the Medford Water Commission's line that now extends to Talent — a long-overdue insurance policy against future dry years — but that isn't complete yet. In the meantime, Ashlanders should continue to work together to keep water use to a minimum.