By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, has brought forward a resolution designed to quash rumors that the Oregon Water Resources Department plans to tax or institute a fee on domestic wells.
First off, Esquivel said, the rumor is untrue.
The department has no plans to institute a fee on domestic wells.
That said, the fact the rumor has surfaced provided an incentive to place a prohibition on the department from ever taking such action, Esquivel said.
"This is about a potential head-off of an additional way to take money from people who already have infrastructures in place," Esquivel said.
The "potential head-off" is imbedded in House Joint Resolution 25.
The resolution was introduced in an April 11 public hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Esquivel said the fee is unjustified given that the state had no part in constructing or equipping domestic wells.
Committee member Rep. Gail Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, thanked Esquivel for bringing forward the resolution.
"I think this is a very important issue for the state of Oregon and for the people that live in the rural area of Oregon that have wells," Whitsett said.
Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas, said he, too, has heard the rumors about a potential fee.
"We need to put this to bed and decide one way or the other how to go, and I think this is a great way," Thompson said.
Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-Portland, said he was uncomfortable with the resolution.
"It really does tie the hand of future legislators," Reardon said. "Water is such a valuable resource, and I'm concerned about our ability to manage that in the future."
The committee took no action on the resolution.