Déjà Vu All Over Again

It’s been more than seven years since promoters of the (still just a proposal) Pacific Gales Golf Course came to town with their scheme to capture Port Orford wastewater for irrigation. In spite of receiving conditional use permits in 2016 to build a pipeline out beyond the city to their (still farmland) site, the project has not advanced one inch. Brazenly, they have come back year after year (five times now) for time extensions on those CUPs. Port Orford has been extremely lenient in interpreting its Municipal Code to allow the extensions — the Planning Commission did so again this year. But the would-be golf aces have not even been able to obtain the permits needed before they can use a drop of recycled water. We think it’s time to pipe this golf course off the stage for good. Port Orford can and must finally reclaim its water, and its advantage, in land use issues.

An appeal of the 2023 extension is scheduled for April 20. The notice, with maps of the possible pipeline routes, is below.

A Legislative Sneaker Wave

Newly minted State Senator David Brock Smith has joined with Representative Court Boice (just risen from a position as Curry County Commissioner) to introduce SB 948 in the 2023 session. The bill would appropriate “$750,000 for distribution to the City of Port Orford for the purpose of water recycling.” NOT for upgrades to the failing drinking water and sewer systems, but apparently solely for building the pipeline to the proposed Pacific Gales Golf Course. There is no other recycled water project in the wings or even whispered about in our fine coastal village.

Smith has been a promoter of the golf course since it was first proposed in 2014, and of the pipeline for recycled water for irrigating the course since that was proposed in 2016. Port Orford has extended and extended and extended the land use permits for the pipeline, in spite of the plain fact that there has been zero progress in building the golf course. The developers have also failed to obtain a critical permit from the Department of Environmental Quality for applying recycled water to farmland.  

100 Friends of Port Orford opposes both the golf course and the pipeline, which is currently up for its umpteenth permit renewal. Opponents have appealed an approval by the Port Orford Planning Commission last month. As yet, no appeal hearing before the City Council has been scheduled.

Questions about the pipeline have only grown since 2016, especially in view of Port Orford’s critical water situation, officially recognized as an emergency. The city has enacted penalties for higher rates of water usage and also put a moratorium on installation of new water services. Now comes this bill to the rescue . . . of the golf course pipeline? Should Oregon taxpayers be shoring up this creaky private project that will only put increased stress on Port Orford resources? Did Smith and Boice come to Port Orford with the bill before introducing it? We can only speculate about what is going on. But so far, it doesn’t pass the smell test.