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Environment, Energy and Transportation

The Weed Water War Finally Ends In A Truce

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For the last five years, the city of Weed, California, has had to pay an Oregon-based lumber company for access to drinking water that had been nearly free for decades. The future of the city’s water supply was unclear, which led to a flurry of lawsuits. Now, Weed has struck a deal that secures guaranteed water rights indefinitely.

Most of Weed’s water comes from a local spring, owned by Roseburg Forest Products. About five years ago, the company began charging the city $100,000 a year for the water.

Now, after years of rancorous litigation, commercial water bottler CG Roxane Crystal Geyser stepped in to purchase the water rights, then sold them to the city for half the cost.

Tim Rundel is Weed’s City Manager. He says that although utility costs for Weed residents won’t change, they can now feel confident in the future of their drinking water.

"Now that we’ve secured the rights and done away with the uncertainty, " says Rundel, "I think it should give them a sense of calm, a sense of relief that those rights have been obtained and we can provide the same good spring water to our citizens that they’ve been used to for decades.”

The city will pay off the purchase over the next twelve years with no interest. Most of that money will come from Weed water users, through small monthly utility fees that used to go to leasing costs.

Rundel says he's grateful for Crystal Geyser, and that he reached out to the company because of its long-standing relationship with the city.

“We went forward with some needs to a company like Crystal Geyser who’s been here well over twenty years," said Rundel. "They saw it as an opportunity to help out the city of Weed. Because they feel like the city of Weed has been very gracious with them in making sure their business thrived.”

CG Roxane Crystal Geyser operates a water bottling plant in Weed. The company is related to, but legally distinct from, the Crystal Geyser Water Company, which was entangled in a protracted legal battle with the Winnemem Wintu tribe and local residents over a water bottling plant just outside the city of Mount Shasta, California.

Weed's lease agreement with Roseburg ended automatically. Rundel also said that the city is dropping its litigation against Roseburg, the last in a years-long string of lawsuits between the parties.