The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Water 1925
The report that gave Medford A Mountain Spring in Every Home.


A Report Made by F. C. Dillard, Engineer,
and D. C. Henny, Consulting Engineer.

    To the Citizens of Medford:
    Your Board of Water Commissioners, after a most careful study and survey of the water situation in Medford, covering a period of more than three years, now believes it to be to the best interest of the city to do the following things:
    FIRST: Build to the natural springs on Big Butte Creek for your water supply. This is the best supply of water that it is possible for the city to obtain.
    SECOND: Build a steel pipe line of treble the capacity of the present line, with an estimated life of forty years.
    THIRD: Build a new crosstown main to improve general city service.
    FOURTH: Bond the city for $975,000.00, serial bonds, all to be paid off during the lifetime of the proposed water system.
    An ample supply of mountain spring water brought to Medford will be the largest contributing factor in our future growth.
    We submit the above recommendations, based upon the advice of the best engineers obtainable, together with long and careful study on our part.
    You have the report of the engineers which we ask you to read carefully that you may get the facts. The matter is now in your hands for decision at the coming election on October 8th.
    By H. L. Walther, Chairman,
    E. C. Gaddis,
    Olen Arnspiger,
    A. L. Hill,
    H. U. Lumsden.
September 1, 1925.
Board of Water Commissioners, Medford, Oregon.
    Gentlemen: The following is a report which you instructed us to make on an improved and enlarged water supply for the City of Medford.
    1. The City of Medford was first settled in 1883 and was incorporated by Act of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon, February 24, 1885, as the "Town of Medford," and reincorporated February 7, 1905, as the "City of Medford."
    2. The population as given by the U.S. Census was 967 in 1890, 1791 in 1900, 8840 in 1910, and 5760 in 1920. The population at the present time is estimated at 9000. The peak of the Jackson County boom was reached about 1910 and the census figure for that year must have included large numbers of floaters, laborers and transients, and undoubtedly did not represent the true condition.
    3. The assessed valuation of the City in 1906 was $1,048,959; in 1916, $4,033,185, and in 1924, $4,935,183. The assessor advised that the valuation for  1925 will be not less than $5,329,000.
    4. The first water system was installed in Medford in 1889. An open ditch about three miles long was constructed from Bear Creek, delivering water to a well in the City, from which it was pumped into two wooden tanks having a capacity of 32,000 gallons each. The tanks had an elevation of about 77 feet above the center of the business portion of west Medford. The water was distributed from the tanks by gravity. In 1902 the ditch was abandoned and a pumping plant installed on the west bank of Bear Creek. Steam power was first used, but in 1904 a ten-year contract was entered into with the Condor Water and Power Co. which supplied electric power for pumping. The water was obtained from a well on the banks of Bear Creek and soon proved to be unsuitable for domestic use. Accordingly steps were taken to secure a pure gravity supply from some stream or springs.
    5. Various sources were proposed and investigated. Little Butte Creek was finally selected as the source of supply, and on December 5, 1908, a contract was entered into with the Fish Lake Water Company whereby the City agreed to pay the company $254,100 for construction of a gravity supply line and for perpetually supplying the City with 7½ sec.-ft. of water. The amount included in the above total for the purchase of the 7½ sec.-ft. of water was $15,000. The work was completed and water served from the new gravity line in 1910. The line has been in constant use since that time.
    6. Subsequently the City purchased 348 acres of land (Slinger ranch) above the pipe intake with a water right of 1½ sec.-ft.
    7. Since the purchase of the 7½ sec.-ft. of water in 1908 and the building of the present pipe line, the Fish Lake Water Company was sold to the Rogue River Valley Canal Company, now Mt. Pitt Irrigation Company, which constructed a storage dam at Fish Lake. The lands in the reservoir formed by the dam were left uncleared of its timber and brush growth, causing the water to have a woody taste and odor. In the fall of the year, when the lake is drained, the water becomes discolored and contains an algae growth which causes a very pungent smell. The water at this time is very unpalatable and hardly suitable for domestic use. It has been expected that by this time after the lapse of years the water would be clear at all times, but this has not so far been the case, nor is there any assurance that it will ever be the case.
    8. Diamond Lake is a mountain lake very similar to Fish Lake. There are two seasons during the year when the decaying vegetable growth of this lake lets loose and is flushed out. The algae here resemble those at Fish Lake, and make the water unfit for domestic use or bathing. This condition has existed at Diamond Lake for many years and as far as is known does not improve.
    9. As long as Fish Lake is used as a storage basin for irrigation purposes the City cannot expect a satisfactory condition during the irrigation season. Each time the flow from the lake is increased the water will be muddy and carry sediment. Filter beds would remedy this condition, but they would be very expensive to install and operate.
    10. On July 23rd, 1925, temperature tests were taken in the present pipe line with the following results:
Fahrenheit from Intake
Intake 64      0 miles
Pipe Line Bridge     63½   6.0 miles
Standpipe 62   7.6 miles
Mrs. McDonald's 62   8.9 miles
Tunnel 62 10.1 miles
James Owen's 62 15.   miles
Well--City Reservoir 64 21.9 miles
Reservoir No. 1 72
House Faucet in West Medford 71
    It is not necessary to point out that the water is too warm for drinking in the summer without being iced.
    11. The present pipe line consists of 21.9 miles of 16-in. machine-banded wood stave pipe. All pipe was dipped but not creosoted under pressure. Banded collars were used. The maximum head on the pipe is 375 feet. The pipe is built with a fall of 4.333 feet per 1,000 feet, having a carrying capacity of 6.12 cu. ft. per sec.
    12. During July of this year, a careful examination was made of the physical condition of the present gravity pipe line. Mr. C. W. Davis, the City Superintendent, had test holes dug along the pipe line. The City employees who regularly work on the line were questioned and their idea is confirmed by a first-hand examination of the pipe itself by Mr. F. C. Dillard. The pipe was examined in fifty places, selected at random, with the following results:
Good 20
Fair 20
Poor   7
Very poor   3
By very poor, it is meant that a stave is decayed in some place and apt to fail at any time, although the failure would not be sufficient to put the line out of use for any great length of time. These particular sections of pipe may last from one to three years, but the necessity of their early replacement is certain. The portion of the pipe under high head was usually found in better condition than the low head portion.
    13. If the examination made can be used as a criterion, then 3/50 of the line is in very poor shape, or 1.3 mile. This is rather alarming. We believe, even though the pipe line may give service for the next three years without many failures, before long, however, the upkeep may be expected to become very heavy. The City in the past eighteen months has expended $38,798.51 in renewing collars, about one-third having required renewal. All the remaining collars will need to be renewed within three years, after which, as above stated, renewals of the pipe itself will continue to keep the maintenance cost high.
    14. Advance in sanitary science has greatly raised the demands made upon domestic supply systems as to purity of water. The general tendency is towards either filtering or bringing in pure mountain water from protected drainage areas. The present supply no longer meets the ordinary qualifications of domestic water. The present standard can be maintained, but it cannot be improved in the future by policing. Moreover no amount of supervision can affect the color and taste of the water, which at certain times of the year becomes very objectionable. A certain degree of freedom from excessive amounts of alkali is also insisted on partly for economic reasons.
    15. The question of amount of water to be figured on is largely governed by the needs of the early future as measured by water consumption of the past and by expected growth.
    16. The consumption in Medford may be divided into three group--domestic, industrial, and irrigation. The latter makes the largest demands upon the system, and for that reason total local consumption cannot be readily compared with that of other cities where irrigation is confined to lawn sprinkling or where summer rains occur.
    17. The midsummer consumption in Medford has become greater than the capacity of the main supply pipe. On August 3, the volume of flow into the reservoir was measured for a period of one hour and found to be six cubic feet per second or about 3,900,000 gallons per day, Approximately the same amount has been delivered during the entire summer season.
    18. The number of water taps at the present time is 2500, which number includes the commercial taps. If there were four persons to each tap, the population of the city would be 10,000 and the daily per capita use 388 gallons. The number of telephone connections inside the city limits is 2400; the telephone companies figure one telephone connection to each four persons--this would indicate a population of 9600, or a daily per capita use of 404 gallons. It is our opinion that the number of commercial water taps and telephone users is probably above the average in other cities, and the actual population may therefore be close to 9000. This number would give a maximum daily per capita use of 430 gallons.
    19. The portion of water consumed in house use is not definitely known as the city, except as to industrial consumption, is unmetered. It may, however, be approximated by measurement of the outflow from the septic sewer tank which gives some indication of domestic and industrial consumption. The outflow during July and August averaged about 1.6 sec.-ft. The industrial use as found by meters was 0.56 sec.-ft. in June and 0.58 sec.-ft. in July (nearly 10% of all uses). This would leave about 1.03 sec.-ft. for domestic consumption, equivalent for a population of 9000 to 74 gallons per capita per day. This amount undoubtedly includes some waste, which can largely be eliminated by metering.
    20. The amount consumed by irrigation may be estimated at 6 sec.-ft. total summer supply less 1.6 sec.-ft. used for other purposes, leaving a balance of 4.4 sec.-ft. The total area of the City is 1739 acres, of which ¾ or about 1300 acres is estimated to be in city lots. On the basis of 2428 domestic taps and 1/6 acre average size of lots, the gross area of dwelling lots served is about 400 A., of which approximately ⅔ or 270 A. is in home garden and lawn. The use then is about one acre-foot per acre per summer month. The usual consumption of meadow land in the Rogue River Valley is 0.6 A.-F. per acre per summer month. This would make 162 A.-F. for 270 A., an amount equal to a steady flow of 2.7 S.F. The very nature of City lawn and garden irrigation makes water demands high because of heavy evaporation. Whether this fact is sufficient to explain the large difference between the figured supply of 4.4 sec.-ft. and the ordinary agricultural requirements of 2.7 sec.-ft. is uncertain. The large figure undoubtedly contains some waste and some slight loss through main pipe leaks, which may be avoidable by close inspection or by metering.
    21. If the estimated domestic consumption of 1.03 sec.-ft. should contain 20% waste and if irrigation use could be curtailed a like proportion without detriment, then the summer consumption by the present population of 9000 would drop from 6 to 4.9 sec.-ft. Such improvement could probably not be secured without the general introduction of meters, but would permit the increase of Medford's population to 11,000 without the necessity of increasing the present supply.
    22. The present supply of 6 S.F. during the summer equals 430 gallons per capita per day. A metered supply of 4.9 S.F. would be equivalent to 352 gallons per capita per day, all on the basis of 9000 population. In earlier reports, such as that of Eng. W. J. Roberts of 1908, 150 or 160 gallons per capita per day was estimated as sufficient. The difference in estimates is almost exclusively in the item allowed for irrigation, as is evident from the following table:
Second Gallons Gals. per
Feet per Day Cap. per Day
Domestic use 1.03 665,000 74
Industrial use 0.57 363,000 41 115
Irrigation and waste 4.4   2,843,000   315
    Total 6.0   3,876,000   430
    23. It will be seen that the present industrial and unmetered domestic use may aggregate 115 gallons per capita per day and that the total requirements must depend to a major extent upon the addition to be made for irrigation which it is now seen was estimated in past reports more nearly on the basis of averages elsewhere than on the real needs as they have since developed in the City of Medford.
    24. The above refers to the present rate of consumption. There is a persistent tendency as shown by statistics for per capita consumption to increase. The average daily consumption in St. Louis, Missouri, was 45 gallons per capita in 1872, 72 gallons in 1880, 78 gallons in 1890, 106 gallons in 1900, and 138 gallons in 1924. Modern plumbing induces the average citizen to use more and more water. There are now small refrigerating units in all meat markets and many grocery stores. The near future will probably see small units installed in many homes. More attention than in the past is also being paid to an abundance of shrubbery, trees, and green lawns, which go far toward relieving the heated condition of the city during the summer and making the city attractive. It may be advisable to reduce waste in irrigation when practicable, but restricted beneficial irrigation use would not be a wise economy,
    25. There is ample acreage within the present City limits to permit large growth of population without increase of intensity, which character of growth is favored by the general use of automobiles. Thus the relative use of water which is now roughly estimated at 17% for domestic use, 10% for industrial and 73% for irrigation use when consumption is at its maximum, is not likely to be materially changed. Assuming that domestic use should increase from 74 to 100 gallons and that industrial and irrigation consumption should remain as now per capita per day, the daily consumption of the future without special restrictive measures may be placed at 460 gallons per day. To this large new industries may make further additions.
    26. Plans for the future should take into account probable growth of population. The population grew from 5760 in 1920 to 9000 in 1925 or at an average rate of 10% per year. The number of water taps increased from 2159 in 1920 to 2500 in 1925, an increase of 3% per year. The reason here for the difference in these percentages is probably the gradual occupation of vacant dwellings during the earlier years followed by rapid residence construction, the latter only affecting the number of taps. (See in this connection Fig. 2, plate 1.)
    27. Medford is situated in the center of 35,000 acres of irrigated land for a large part of which irrigation works have been recently completed and which is just now beginning to be cut into small tracts. It is entirely reasonable to expect a great increase in fruit and vegetable production during the next ten or fifteen years. This will mean that canneries, creameries, cheese factories, precooling plants, etc. will follow and locate where the best facilities can be obtained. Some of these factories may be heavy water consumers: for instance, the Rogue River Valley Canning Company alone used 1,827,000 gallons during July.
    28. There is a large area of timber tributary to Medford which is now beginning to be cut off. The next ten years will probably see this operation in full swing with a basic supply estimated to last for scores of years.
    29. There is reason to believe therefore that the heavy increase of population for the last five years will be continued for some time and that in 1935 the City may contain over 15,000 people. After that the growth may become somewhat slower, but it is easily possible that this number by 1945 may have reached 20,000.
    30. Such population at the figured increased daily maximum consumption of 460 gallons per capita would in summer require 15 sec.-ft. It seems to us that to build at this time for an amount smaller than this, such as would suffice for from ten to fifteen years growth, might be considered as a permissible economy. To build now, however, for a larger amount would place an unnecessary burden on the present generation in requiring it to pay interest and amortization on extra investment which is not likely to be needed for 20 or 25 years.
    31. In considering various sources of supply and acquiring rights thereto, it is of the utmost importance that, if at all possible, a source be selected which is capable of furnishing not only 15 sec.-ft. above mentioned but an amount two or three times as great as a safeguard for the future.
    32. In investigating sources of water supply for Medford, it has seemed useless to us to consider pumping from wells in Bear Creek Valley or from Rogue River. Both sources would be under serious suspicion as to purity and would immediately, or at an early date, demand scientific filtering.
    33. Filtration is an expensive process both in construction and operation and is usually adopted only when no pure supply is available within a reasonable distance. In Medford filtration would be excessively expensive. If irrigation is to be supplied from the same pipe system as domestic water supply, as is the case now, it will require a filtration plant which for every 74 gallons of domestic consumption must necessarily filter in addition almost five times this amount. If irrigation is to be otherwise supplied, a separate costly pipe system must be built and maintained.
    34. All this can be avoided if within a reasonable distance mountain water of unquestioned purity can be found at satisfactory elevation. Our investigation has not revealed any source of pure mountain water supply not already well known, but these sources have been carefully studied. They consist of Cold Springs near Fish Lake, Mosquito Creek, Wasson Creek, Big Butte Springs, and scattered springs farther up Big Butte Creek.
    35. The reduction of waste by metering makes a strong appeal to every economist and engineer and its probable effect was, therefore, taken under first consideration. From the relatively heavy consumption it was preliminarily concluded that an unusually large saving would be possible.
    36. Such conclusion is not supported, however, by the rough estimates of waste given in Section 21 and tending to show that the saving to be effected by meters may not be greater than 20%. It should be stated, however, that in the absence of a thorough waste survey, which has not yet been made, this estimate had to be based on very scant data, as explained in Sections 19-20.
    37. The possibility seamed attractive of postponing new main pipe line construction for a long time by the introduction of meters. It now seems probable that the time that new construction may thus be put off would be only until the City population has grown to 11,000. (See Section 21.)
    38. Postponement in main line construction in this manner would not only involve the expenditure of about $50,000 for meters and the subsequent cost of maintenance and meter reading, but would also require the maintenance of the present wooden main pipe line. This would necessitate an annual expenditure of $25,000 for three years for new collars and thereafter the cost of gradual replacement of pipe.
    39. After all this is done the City would still be subject to the present limitation of its water supply and to its unsatisfactory quality. It would again soon be confronted with the necessity of enlarging its supply and then, too, delay for any considerable time might render the City's present good title to Big Butte Creek waters questionable, due to not putting the waters to beneficial use.
    40. This spring is located in Section 4,T. 37 S., R. 4 E. of W.M., just south of the North Fork of Little Butte Creek and about 33 miles from Medford. The source of the spring is unknown, but it would appear that this spring is the outlet for the Big Elk drainage area. No chemical analysis is available. A bacteriological analysis was made and shows the water as now flowing from the spring to be of unquestioned purity. Its elevation is 3100 feet above that of Medford, and ample fall is therefore available for carrying water to the City distribution reservoir.
    41. A record of the flow has been kept by the U.S. Geological Survey for the years 1923 and 1924. The climatic year of 1923-4 was the driest since the weather bureau station was established in Ashland in 1879. We are told by old residents that the only other year in their memory that approached it was the winter of 1858-9, and that it was no worse than the past year of 1924.
    42. The measured discharge of Cold Spring is listed below; the figures being independent of from two to three second-feet flowing around the gaging station, which could not be measured:
July 14 14.8 cu. ft. per sec.
July 27 14.8 cu. ft. per sec.
August 15 14.4 cu. ft. per sec.
August 28 11.8 cu. ft. per sec.
September 15 12.7 cu. ft. per sec.
April 21 15.9 cu. ft. per sec.
May 30 14.8 cu. ft. per sec.
July 11 13.3 cu. ft. per sec.
July 24 12.2 cu. ft. per sec.
August 8 12.4 cu. ft. per sec.
August 16 12.1 cu. ft. per sec.
August 27 11.4 cu. ft. per sec.
September 25 11.8 cu. ft. per sec.
October 1   9.6 cu. ft. per sec.
October 2   8.2 cu. ft. per sec.
November 17   9.1 cu. ft. per sec.
January 20 14.6 cu. ft. per sec.
    43. This creek carries the slowly accumulating flow from springs on the west slope of Mount McLoughlin. At the point where it reaches Section 6, T. 36 S., R. 4 E. of W.M. it begins to sink into the lava and finally disappears entirely near the U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station located in the same section. Although flowing for several miles on the surface, its purity though not tested by analysis, is probably as unquestioned as that of Cold Spring and can readily be maintained, as the entire creek lies within the Crater National Forest.
    44. The elevation at the point of collection is about 2200 feet above Medford and is therefore amply high for a gravity pipe line. The flow as measured on June 10 was 12 sec.-ft. and on July 17, 8 sec.-ft. There probably was a further reduction in August.
    45. Wasson Creek was originally considered as a possible source of supply for the City. The stream has as its source springs which are located in T. 36 S., R. 3 E. The quality is good and suitable for domestic use. Its elevation is satisfactory, being about 1400 feet above Medford. A measurement made on June 25, 1908, by W. J. Roberts showed a flow of 6 sec.-ft., which amount decreased later in the summer. The July and August flow in 1924 was estimated at 2.5 sec.-ft. A float measurement made on July 23, 1925, showed a flow of 3.0 sec.-ft.
    46. The Big Butte Springs are located about 31 miles from Medford in Sections 20 and 21, T. 35 S., R. 3 E. The water is of the highest quality as is shown in the report of City Health Officer Dr. E. B. Pickel. The temperature of the water is 43 degrees F. The elevation is 1300 feet above Medford and therefore high enough for delivery through a gravity line into the City reservoirs.
    47. The accompanying map shows the relation of the different groups of springs to each other. Miscellaneous discharge measurements have been taken on Group No. 1 since 1923, and are as listed below together with the measurements made and estimates of flow.
Discharge in Cu. Ft. Per Sec.                               
Date Group No. 1 Groups Total of
Measured 2 to 5 Five Groups
Estimated Estimated
Aug. 7, 1923 13.4 35 48
Sept. 6, 1923 13.5 35 49
May 2, 1924 13.9 36 50
July 21, 1924 12.6 33 46
Aug. 23, 1924 12.8 34 47
Nov. 14, 1924 12.2 33 45
Feb. 18, 1925 16.9 44 61
May 26, 1925 15.4 40 55
July 22, 1925 15.0     39.4     54.4
    48. There are other springs of apparently equal purity in the Big Butte Creek drainage area. However, they are located farther away from Medford than the Big Butte Springs and are moreover widely scattered and expensive to collect. Their total flow does not exceed that of Big Butte Springs.
    49. The flow of Cold Springs may be readily combined with that of Wasson Creek, thus making a total of about 16 S.F. of pure spring water. It has been argued that it can also be combined with additional water to be purchased from the Mt. Pitt Irrigation Company. Such purchase would seem inadvisable now or in the future because the addition of water thus secured and its merging with pure spring water would leave the quality of the mixture equally subject to objection as is the present supply.
    50. In any case acquisition is out of the question since the Mt. Pitt Irrigation Co. has advised the Water Commission that "it does not care to furnish the City any additional water at this time." The Board of Directors of the Medford Irrigation District also advise "that they prefer to sell any surplus water they may have to additional acreage rather than disposing of it for municipal supply." It is certain that the entire supply of both concerns will be insufficient to irrigate the lands commanded by their canals from Rogue River. Both sources would be under serious suspicion as to purity and would immediately or at an early date demand scientific filtering.
    51. The City rights to Cold Springs is equal in amount and priority to that of the water collected at the present City intake lower down on Little Butte Creek, the amount being 7½ S.F. plus 1½ S.F. secured by the purchase of the Slinger ranch, making a total of 9 S.F. Additional water would have to be acquired by purchase.
    52. The City has at present no express right to water from Mosquito Creek, but this right could probably be obtained in view of the City's filings on Big Butte Creek and Big Butte Springs.
    53. The flow to Wasson Creek can be claimed by the City under its general right to Little Butte water limited to 9 S.F. If the creek is used in conjunction with a greater use of Cold Springs, the right of diversion would have to be purchased. If used in conjunction with Mosquito Creek water the present rights of the City to Little Butte Creek water would suffice.
    54. As to the right of the City to use water from Big Butte Springs, which is a tributary of Big Butte Creek, it may be stated that under date of April 25, 1925, the State Engineer made an allotment of 30 S.F. of the water of Big Butte Creek withdrawn from appropriation on August 21, 1915, and issued permit No. ------ to the City of Medford, which permit has a date of priority of August 21, 1915. The City is also holder of Permit No. 6703, being application No. 8092, granting right to divert and use 30 S.F. of the waters of Big Butte Springs, and has a date of priority of October 20, 1923. The Legislative Assembly for the year 1925 enacted chapter 166 of the General Laws of Oregon which provides for the withdrawal of all the unappropriated waters of Big Butte Creek and tributaries, and holds the same for the future use of the City of Medford.
    55. The Eagle Point Irrigation District has an allotment of 100 cu ft. per sec. of the waters of Big Butte Creek, which allotment has the same date of priority as the allotment to the City of Medford. The allotment of 100 cu. ft per sec. is more than the district will be able to use during the next few generations. The Big Butte Springs are located about six miles above the diversion point of the district canal. The minimum flow of the creek at the diversion point of the canal is approximately double that at the Big Butte Springs.
    56. The following table of use shows the requirements of the Eagle Point Irrigation District based on 2.11 acre-feet delivered on the land, and a total acreage of 7000 net irrigable, which acreage in the opinion of the District Operation Manager is probably the maximum that will be irrigated by the district. It will be noted that a duty of 2.11 acre-feet is provided instead of 1.5 acre-feet as in the other irrigation districts in the valley:
    Month Net on
in Ft.
in Ft.
per Mo.
Avg. Flow
Sec. Ft.
Avg. Flow
S.F. at
Div. Pt.
Min. Flow
Big Butte
Ck. for
Yr. 1924
Avail. for
Diver. by
City of
April 15-30 0.15 25% 0.20 1400 47 52 150 S.F. 98
May 0.35 20% 0.94 3080 53 58 114 S.F. 56
June 0.50 15% 0.59 4130 69 77 110 S.F. 33
July 0.50 15% 0.59 4130 67 75 110 S.F. 25
Aug. 0.45 18% 0.55 3850 62 68   93 S.F. 25
Sept. 1-15 0.16 25% 0.20 1400 47 52   93 S.F. 31
    Totals 2.11 2.57 18190  
    57. The above table clearly shows that the flow of Big Butte Creek was sufficient for the maximum needs of the Eagle Point Irrigation District, together with a supply of 25 S.F. for the City of Medford even in a year like 1924. The average flow in July was 105 sec.-ft.; in August 99, and in September 97½ sec.-ft. In average years the minimum available for the City will be about 35 sec.-ft.
    58. If at some future time the needs of the City and District grow beyond the natural flow available, then the City can acquire the right to use all the spring water available by providing storage of flood water for the District. The City is assured of its legal rights to intercept and use the entire yield of Big Butte Springs.
    59. The right of the City to use the water from scattered springs higher up on Big Butte Creek is covered by the same filings as are mentioned in connection with Big Butte Springs.
    60. The only estimates of cost, which it was deemed necessary to make, refer to the cost of bringing in a supply from Cold Spring in conjunction with Wasson Creek, and a supply from Big Butte Springs. The flow from Mosquito Creek even if combined with that of Wasson Creek, which could be picked up en route, is clearly too small for consideration. The supply from scattered springs high up on Big Butte Creek is not superior to that of Big Butte Springs in quality or quantity and is more costly to deliver to Medford because of great length of collecting pipes and longer main pipe line.
    61. Detailed estimates show that the total cost of 16.5 sec.-ft. supply delivered into the city reservoirs from either of the two sources mentioned is as follows:
  Cold Spring and Wasson Creek $877,000
Big Butte Springs   875,000
The estimates were based on identical character of construction, which will be discussed later. The relation between costs probably holds good for somewhat smaller or larger supply mains.
    62. It is now possible to judge intelligently which of the available sources is most desirable. Mosquito Creek and springs high up on Big Butte Creek have been ruled out, the first by too small quantity, the latter by high relative cost.
    63. On the point of purity, there is no definitely known difference between the Cold Springs-Wasson Creek and the Big Butte Springs supply. Both are at present above suspicion, and can probably be maintained so. There may be relatively more drainage area tributary to the former source outside of the National Forest that to the latter source, but in either case ordinary precautions authorized by law are likely to be effective.
    64. On the point of estimated cost of main pipe line, the two sources also happen to be practically on a par.
    65. There is, however, one outstanding feature operating greatly in favor of the selection of Big Butte Springs as an immediate and permanent source of supply. If Big Butte Springs be now selected and beneficial use made of the water at an early date, the City will thereby secure a source of pure water supply which has a minimum flow of 45 sec.-ft., with an immediate and definite right to 35 sec.-ft. for average years and 25 sec.-ft. minimum. The rights to the full 45 second-feet can at any time in the future be made good by providing river storage as a substitute supply for excess spring water taken, to which the Eagle Point Irrigation District may be legally entitled.
    66. In case Cold Spring with or without the addition of Wasson Creek be now chosen as a new source of supply, the City's rights to Big Butte Springs will lapse and the amount of pure water thus obtained is only about 16 sec.-ft., sufficient for many years, but leaving no wide margin for development beyond a population of about 20,000 people.
    67. The great advantage in now clinching the right to a supply so abundant and pure as the Big Butte Springs is to our minds too obvious to require further discussion.
    68. The location and flow of the Big Butte Springs have been given in Sections 40 and 41. A report on the geological conditions prepared by Mr. Ira A. Williams, Consulting Geologist of Portland, Oregon, for the Water Commission is on file with the City Recorder. The main points covered by this geological report are quoted as follows:
    a. "The Springs, as they are today, should afford a permanent and wholesome supply of water for the City of Medford," and "there appears no reason why the total volume of these springs should change materially within any period of the future in which we might be concerned."
    b. "I am of the opinion that a goodly part, if not all, of the water now coming from the springs on the Willow Creek side, that are north of the center of Section 20, can be found and probably intercepted and diverted by a cut through the ridge as high as from the uppermost of the west side group across to the large spring 500 feet to the northeastward."
    c. "I see no grounds at present for believing that it might be economically possible to intercept and divert a sufficiently large proportion of the underground flow at yet a higher elevation."
    d. "As conditions now are, with practically no settlement whatever within the portions of the drainage basin where certainly the bulk of the water enters the lava, I see little risk or probability of contamination of the water coming from the springs which would endanger their use as a source of supply. Underground conditions, filtrations by the earth materials through which the water passes in its flow to we know not how many miles of travel before it comes out in springs, all are unfavorable to the prolonged existence of disease germs and effective in the removal of organic matter of whatsoever kind."
    69. The conclusions drawn from the Geologist's report are that the springs are as permanent as it is possible to find springs, that the chances of contamination without protection are extremely small or absent, that it is probably possible to collect all the flow by a crosscut from the first group of springs to the last group, and that it probably would not be possible to intercept the flow of the springs at a higher elevation thereby making it feasible to locate the main pipe line through the Obenchain pass.
    70. The location of the main supply pipe intake at the Springs will eliminate all chance of contamination such as now exists to the present supply between Fish Lake and the City intake. Also the objection to frequent muddy water in the house service pipe will be removed.
    71. The source of the water supply of the springs is the precipitation on a large area to the east as far as the Cascade divide. The constancy of the supply during summer is unquestionably due to the melting snow on Mt. McLoughlin. The visible drainage area directly tributary to the springs is approximately 16 square miles as shown on the drainage map accompanying this report. While we cannot be certain, we are of the opinion that Mosquito Creek contributes to the flow of the springs. Geologist I. A. Williams is of the same opinion. Mosquito Creek alone, however, is not the sole source of supply as is shown by the discharge measurements presented in Section 37. On July 17, Mosquito Creek was flowing 8 sec.-ft. and the combined flow of the springs was not less than 54 sec.-ft. To the northeast of Mosquito Flat, well up the slopes of Mt. McLoughlin, and outside the Mosquito Creek drainage area, running water can be heard below the surface of the lava rocks. No water is visible and farther down the slope it cannot be heard at all, nor is there any evidence of a stream bed.
    72. Some time in the past there may have existed a drainage system for the northwest portion of Mt. McLoughlin which has later been filled with a flow or successive flows of lava. This lava is more or less porous and provides a valuable storage basin for the runoff of the northwest portion of the mountain. The water slowly finds its way down the old channels to the point where it breaks out as springs.
    73. The opinion has been advanced by some that the source of the springs is the Four Bit Creek and Rancheria Creek marsh. Elevations taken with an aneroid barometer show that the upper end of this marsh is a little lower than the Big Butte Creek Springs and that the real marshy portion is between 20 and 40 feet lower. The marsh is probably nothing more than beaver dam land with submerged springs. Springs can be seen cropping out all along the east side of the marsh. It is certain that none of the water passing through this marsh ever reaches the springs. Even if the marsh were at a higher elevation than the springs it is not probable that any of the water of the marsh would ever find its way to the springs for the reason that the well-defined drainage channel of Four Bit Creek lies between the marsh and the springs.
    74. The permanent purity of the Big Butte Springs is practically beyond suspicion, nevertheless if the proposed development should be approved by the voters of the City, the Water Commission would undoubtedly take steps to have the entire drainage area tributary to the Springs and within the boundaries of the Crater National Forest set aside as a reserve for the protection of the municipal water supply. This matter has been discussed with the Forest Supervisor, and it is his opinion that there will be no trouble to secure the fullest cooperation from the National Forest Service. There are between four and five thousand acres of timber land lying outside the National Forest, over which sanitary control should be obtained when the need therefor arises. The State Board of Health has ample power to fully protect the water for city use, and it will only remain for the Water Commission and its employees to see that this protection is secured when needed, and maintained. (See Chapter XII Olson's General Laws of Oregon.)
    75. The water, after being collected from the various springs in a manner to fully protect it from light and a mixture of leaves and other foreign matter, is to be conducted through a pipe line 30.7 miles in length. The estimates are passed on using soil-proofed electric welded metal pipe, which, with the available grades, will have a carrying capacity of 15.7 to 17.4 cubic feet per second, for delivery into the City reservoirs.
    76. The only locations for the main pipe line found practicable are the Nichols Gap route, following the north and west slopes of Antelope and Round Top mountains, and the Obenchain tunnel route, cutting through a divide east of Round Top Mountain and emerging in Lick Creek. Both locations are shown on the general map, marked No. 2.
    77. Comparative estimates of cost have been made for various flow capacities and are given in the following table. The costs have been figured on the same basis and provide for all expenses except interest during construction.
Nichols Gap Route Obenchain Tunnel Route
  Capacity of
Pipe Line
Length of
Pipe Line
Cost of
Pipe Line
Length of
Pipe Line
Cost of
Pipe Line
10.8-12.0 30.72 $751,000
15.7-17.4 30.72   875,000 27.92 $1,003,000
20   -23.0 30.72   960,000
30   -32.0 30.72 1,312,000 27.92   1,404,000
    78. The country through which the pipe line must be laid has a rough topography. For the purpose of making the line as short as possible certain control points must be reached. The grades available between control points are not the same and in order to give each division of pipe the same carrying capacity, with unavoidable differences always in favor of the higher section, different diameters are required which for a system capacity of about 16.5 second-feet are as follows:
Length Interior Dia. Capacity
From  head  to   6.31-mile point   6.31 25" 16.3-18.1 S.F.
From   6.31 to 24.32-mile point 18.01 21" 16.0-17.8 S.F.
From 24.32 to 30.72-mile point   6.40 23" 15.7-17.4 S.F.
    Total 30.72
    79. Estimates of pipe capacity cannot be made in advance with mathematical precision as capacity depends largely on the smoothness of the interior surface and the curvature of the line. The capacities given in the table are the probable minima and maxima, the actual capacities lying somewhere between these limits.
    80. It is proposed to construct a covered concrete basin at the Springs and divert the water direct from the Springs into the pipe line. The pipe line is to be laid in a trench with 42-in. minimum cover both for protection and to keep the water cool. The estimates are based on competitive quotations from reliable firms, and on the use of welded steel pipe, heavily coated and felt wrapped, which has recently come into general use with entire satisfaction. This class of pipe is economical because of its smooth interior, absence from rivet holes which weaken the joints and long life. The thickness of metal is made proportionate to the pressure with a factor of safety of 4 and with a minimum thickness of 0.134 inches. Bids are to be invited also on other classes of pipe with the same capacity on the basis of which final selection is to be made.
    81. Blowoff valves will be placed in the depressions and standpipes or air valves at the summits. Dresser couplings will be used where desirable for expansion joints.
    82. The main supply pipe will have an independent connection with each of the City reservoirs so that either reservoir may be drawn upon at any tine when consumption exceeds the capacity of the supply. Automatic overflow will be provided at the end of the supply main and at intermediate points, to protect it from excess pressure.
    83. The water pressure in some parts of the City has been very low this summer during the hours when irrigation was allowed. In the southwest portion of the City practically no water at all could be obtained during the period of maximum use. The reason for this is that the distribution laterals have a greater capacity than the main distribution pipe. No matter how much additional water may be brought into the reservoirs, this condition will not be remedied until a larger distribution main is built. For this reason an expenditure of $100,000.00 is provided to construct another distribution main across the north part of the City to Columbus Avenue and thence south on Columbus Avenue to connect up with the Eleventh Street main. Without such addition a portion of the population would be discriminated against because receiving only very partial benefit from the new supply main.
    84. The main pipe line to carry from 15.7 to 17.4 sec.-ft. from Big Butte Springs to the City Reservoirs
has been estimated at $875,000
The improvement of the distribution system is estimated at   100,000.00
Total estimated cost $975,000.00
    85. It is true that the present water supply for a period of approximately two months of the year is very unpalatable, unwholesome and hardly fit for domestic use; it is also true that an abundant supply of pure mountain water is one of the biggest assets of any city and the best advertisement possible. Nevertheless, large expenditures toward improving and increasing the water supply in any way should be made with caution and if possible they should be kept within such limits that the water system will pay its own way and retire the present indebtedness and the proposed indebtedness within the life of the proposed pipe line.
    86. Outstanding and unpaid water bonds with dates of maturity are as listed below:
    Date Issued             Amt.          Date Due                          Kind
    July 1, 1908         5,000     July 1, 1926    Series A. Distribution System.
    July 1, 1908         3,000     July 1, 1929    Series B. Distribution System.
    July 1, 1908         7,000     July 1, 1929    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1930    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       30,000     July 1, 1930    Refunding old issue of 1890 and 1900.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1931    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1932    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1933    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1934    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1935    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1936    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908       10,000     July 1, 1937    Gravity Water Bonds.
    July 1, 1908     196,000     July 1, 1938    Gravity Water Bonds.
    87. We find that the City Council by Ordinance No. 1404 has created a sinking fund sufficient to retire all these bonds as they mature. Payments to the sinking fund are to be made yearly by the Water Commission and are mandatory.
    88. Money for annual payments resulting from investment in new construction may be derived from taxation of city property or from increased water rates, or both. The proper city taxing body is the best judge for making a decision. In the following section it will be shown that on the basis of a reasonable increase in water rates, the proposed improvement can be financed without any increase of tax levy for that purpose.
    89. The number of water taps, services or users has increased from a total of 1781 on January 1, 1912, to 2500 on July 1, 1925, or an average of 53 new taps per year. The average yearly payment per tap now is $27.60. Assuming that the rates are to be increased fifty percent, which is not at all unreasonable, each tap would give a yearly return of $40.00.
    90. The future population for determining required supply was estimated in Section 29 at 15,000 in 1935, 17,500 in 1940 and 20,000 in 1945, which is approximately equivalent to 4200, 4850 and 5550 taps for the respective years. With a similar increase of 1300 taps for the following 10 years, the total taps in 1955 would be about 6800. In dealing with pipe capacities and sources of supply it is wise to estimate reasonably high. For purposes of finances it is wise, however, to be very conservative and for the present discussion it will be assumed that by 1955 the number of taps will have gradually increased from 2500 to only 4000 or at the rate of 50 per year. It has also been assumed that 30-year 5% bonds will be issued which time may be reasonably estimated as being less than the life of the pipe.
    91. On the basis of a 50% rate increase, to take effect in 1926, and an increase of taps of 50 per year, an estimate has been made ol' expenditures and income as shown in the following tabulation. It will be seen from column 7 that by 1955 both the old and the new bond issues could be retired and at the same time that as per last column of the table each year reasonable amounts would be available for general betterments, and possibly some additional bonds could be retired. With such showing a premium may well be expected on the price bid for the bonds.
    92. In the event that the City growth should be faster than figured in Section 91, and should be more nearly that figured in determining future water requirements, the income will grow faster than the need for general improvements and the water rates could then be lowered with safety.
    93. A study of the rates charged in the cities of Oregon shows that the City of Medford has a very low rate when placed on a basis of actual water consumed. The total amount of water delivered to the City in July was 120,214,960 gallons; the industrial and outside meter use was 12,737,520 gallons, leaving a total of 107,467,440 gallons used by 2428 flat rate taps, or a monthly use of 44,260 gallons. Applying the meter rate in force in Portland the average charge per tap would have been $4.81. The flat rate in Portland is $1.00 for domestic use of one family and lawn and garden irrigation of 50x150-ft. lot. The flat rate in Medford is $1.75 for domestic use of one family and garden and lawn irrigation of a 50x100-ft. lot, but the maximum daily consumption per capita in Portland is 200 gallons against 430 gallons in Medford. The rates in Portland are very low, below what can be expected in a small city. It will be seen that an increase in water rates is reasonable and that an increase of 50% will keep the average cost per month per water tap below the Portland rate when figured on a basis of the water actually used.
    94. The tabulation introduced in Section 91 assures certain maturities of the new bond issue, beginning January 1, 1927, and increasing in amount each year as the interest decreases. It should be understood that the amounts stated are only suggestive, and that the calculation has been made merely to lay before you a concrete example of the results following from certain assumptions. On their basis only sufficient funds are to be placed in the sinking fund to retire the bonds becoming due each year, yearly balances in the sinking fund being figured at 3%. $196,000 bonds at present outstanding become due in 1938. The schedule submitted assumes the refunding of this indebtedness since it will be better for the city to begin at once to retire bonds of the new issue, which are figured as 5% bonds, than to place sufficient money in the sinking fund at 3% or even 4% to retire the old bonds when due. In order to do this, it will be necessary for the City Council to pass a new ordinance after revoking ordinance No. 1404 requiring the Water Commission to pay yearly into the sinking fund the amounts shown in the schedule. It is probable that a considerable surplus may be accumulated in the water fund by 1938 and then only sufficient refunding bonds need be issued to cover the balance.
    The water supply problem now faced by the City of Medford has been carefully studied by us, and we have reached the following conclusions:
    a. That the present pipe line is now carrying the maximum amount it can be expected to deliver.
    b. That the midsummer consumption has become greater than the capacity of the main supply pipe and that the nightly surplus does not justify the construction of another regulating reservoir.
    c. That the main supply pipe itself is in bad condition requiring ever-growing annual repairs and becoming daily less dependable.
    d. That the present consumption of approximately 430 gallons per capita per day is high and that there seems to be no way of reducing this use except by the introduction of meters or to some extent by elaborate inspection.
    e. That the installation of meters is of doubtful advisability at this time. Meters seem to be generally in high disfavor, as would also be insistent inspection.
    f. That it will be better business to make all present expenditures toward a new main supply rather than continue with a costly repair program which will not increase the capacity of the present main supply pipe or improve the quality of the water or ensure ownership of a large supply of pure water for the future.
    g. That the Big Butte Springs are the best sources of supply available and that the amount available is not less than 45 cu. ft. per second, which will be sufficient to care for the City for an indefinite future.
    h. That the capacity of the proposed pipe line depends upon the probable future growth of the City.
    i. That with a moderate rate of increase of population a pipe line with a capacity of about 16.5 cu. ft. per second is within the water rate paying ability of the city, and that provisions for a still larger capacity would be unnecessarily burdensome.
    j. That the favorable industrial, commercial and climatic conditions surrounding the City justify the expenditure of the estimated total cost of the construction of a new main supply pipe.
    k. That the construction of a new main supply pipe will not help the low pressure in West Medford during the peak use, and that it will be necessary to construct a new crosstown distribution main to relieve this condition and provide adequate distribution capacity for immediate future industrial growth.
    l. That the City's legal rights to the water of Big Butte Springs are based on permits issued by the State Engineer and upon withdrawal of all appropriated water of Big Butte Creek for the City of Medford by an act of the State Legislature of 1925; that the legal authority of the State Engineer to grant such permit has been proven in the higher courts, and that the act of the State Legislature is, according to attorneys' advice, unquestionably legal.
    m. That attorneys further advise that the 7½ cu. ft. per second of water now owned by the City of Medford was acquired by purchase under contract and is owned outright by the City and that the same will not revert to the State or company from which purchase by reason of nonuse.
    n. That the opportunity is given to but few cities to obtain at its source such a plentiful and exceptional supply of pure mountain spring water as is afforded by the Big Butte Springs.
    It is recommended that Water Commissioners of the City of Medford--
    I. Construct a new main supply pipe from Big Butte Springs having an approximal capacity of 16.5 cu. ft per second.
    II. That a crosstown main of suitable size be constructed so as to definitely relieve the pressure situation in West Medford and provide for immediate future industrial growth.
    III. That no disposition be made at the present time of the 7½ cu. ft. per second now used, but that the same be held until it may be advantageously disposed of at some future time.
(Signed) D. C. HENNY,
                F. C. DILLARD.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 14, 1925, pages 9-10

Last revised July 19, 2022