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It can be cloudy or sunny, or perhaps a frustrating bit of both.
Concerned about a worsening drought — although lessened slightly by inches of rain this week — the City Council last week unanimously issued an immediate ban on the sale or use of fireworks for the rest of the year. The traditional fireworks display over the Alsea Bay, now sponsored by the city, will still take place July 3.
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Not only are fireworks — especially illegal ones brought in from Washington state and Indian reservations — a growing nuisance, the city is worried it will not have enough water to fight a major brush or wildfire should one break out this summer and fall. The City Council wants residents to help convince Lincoln County commissioners to do the same in the unincorporated Bayshore area to the north.
Citing the excessive amount of personal fireworks and complaints in that neighborhood, Mayor Greg Holland said he would ask commissioners to issue a similar ban in unincorporated areas. He repeated that request in a later Facebook post, and gave out contact information — addresses and phone s — for the three commissioners.
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Oregon law already is supposed to prohibit fireworks that fly, explode, or move across the ground more than six feet, or go up in the air more than 12 inches. These includes items like bottle rockets, Roman candles, firecrackers, M80s and mortar rounds.
The issue is being pushed by a looming water shortage in Waldport, prompting the council to declare a water emergency as well. City Manager Dann Cutter said the city has started pulling from its secondary water source — Eckman Creek — two months earlier than usual.
The city gets its water mainly from the North and South forks of Weist Creek, with Eckman Creek as an additional, secondary source when needed. It started pulling from Eckman last week to augment low flow from the Weist system and keep its water tanks full, Cutter said. The city has 1, water customers use an average ofgallons a day, Cutter said, and two water storage tanks with a capacity of 1.
Cutter told the council that water levels are far below normal and that experts expect the worst water conditions in 30 years this summer.
With fire danger high, it is imperative to maintain sufficient supply in the water tank to support firefighting at all times, Cutter said. He indicated that other municipalities are likely to consider restricting water use and addressing fire risks. Because the Waldport council is not meeting in July, Cutter asked for authority to issue water restrictions in the event it becomes necessary.
That could include including limitations on watering lawns and landscaping — and change how it charges for water use. Summer sewer averaging is the practice of billing customers for the average sewer usage over the six months. The premise is that any additional water use is seasonal, like washing the car or watering the lawn, and not being sent through the sewer system.
Councilor Susan Woodruff urged caution, asking Cutter to only implement restrictions if absolutely necessary. Whenever water rates go up, use goes down, she noted.
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