State caught over-charging water users, well owners

Oregon Ground Water Association,

Legal challenges filed in the State Court of Appeals and Marion County Circuit Court were responsible for returning fees improperly collected by the Water Resources Department. The Oregon Ground Water Association had raised the issue that the agency was collecting fees from recent legislative changes even before they were signed into law by the Governor. As a result of the legal challenges the Department is returning some of the fees collected between the 1st and 23nd of July, 2009. Fees that may be subject to a refund include new fees and overpayments of subsequently increased fees paid to the Department for well construction (HB-2231), for submission of geotechnical logs (HB-2232), and for ‘exempt’ uses and applications for water rights, transfers, and certificates (SB-788).

Exempt uses of water include domestic use up to 15,000 gpd, stockwatering, down-hole heat exchanges, lawn and gardens not exceeding ½ acre and commercial applications up to 5,000 gpd. The Water Resources Commission adopted temporary rules for a new $300 fee and mapping requirement for those water uses that are exempt from a ground water permit. In September the Commission modified those temporary rules and changed the effective date of the rules from July 1st to July 23rd, with the fee applicable to wells completed on or after July 23, 2009. The Oregon Ground Water Association recommends that the public check for incorrect or overpayment of any fee paid to the Department after

July 1, 2009.

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