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Government Charging Couple for 40 Year Old Pond

According to the Jackson County Watermaster’s Office, Jon Carey and his wife don’t have any rights to their own pond, which was made 40 years ago, long before he bought the property. The property is located off of Butte Falls Highway, and was purchased by the Carey family two and half years ago. Joe and Sabrina Carey have fought with Jackson County Watermaster Larry Menteer over the issue, who says that he is opposed because of the precedent it would set.

Apparently, the Jackson County Water Commission has rights to the watershed around the Carey property, where hundreds of ponds are located, as well as Medford’s main source of water, located in Big Butte Springs. Not only are they claiming they own the pond on the Carey property, they want to charge the Carey’s to remove it.

The Careys want the Water Commission to provide them with a permit for municipal storage so that the water could be used for emergency firefighting, wildlife habitat and as an additional source for municipal needs. They propose that they won’t use the water for their own purposes but want to retain the pond rather than seeing it removed, which would significantly devalue their property.

The Water Commission will consider the Careys’ request at its noon meeting Wednesday, though the commission board last week didn’t seem inclined to approve the request. The Water Commission staff recommended denying Careys’ request.

However, the Careys also suspect that water leaking from the Eagle Point Irrigation District canal above their property is seeping into their pond as well.

Sabrina Carey, 40, said she inspected county records before buying the property, and they clearly indicated that it had a pond.

When Jon Carey decided to grow medical cannabis, he needed to prove that he had a viable water source. At that point, the Careys say the water master’s office told them the pond violated state regulations, and the previous owners hadn’t received a permit.

“When you’re honest, they take everything away from you,” Carey said.

If the Careys can’t succeed in establishing some kind of rights over the water, they face even greater worries.

“Now they want to put me in debt just to get rid of it,” he said.

From what we know about the story, this looks and feels both wasteful and without purpose. Does any water that collects on your property automatically become illegal? Now the Carey’s are feeling as if they are being punished for trying to cooperate.