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Deschutes County groundwater ordinance referendum (2009)

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A Deschutes County groundwater ordinance referendum, also known as "local rule" or "Measure 9-70", was on the March 10, 2009, ballot in Deschutes County.

"No" carried with 56.99% of the vote, meaning that the 2008 ordinance was overturned.[1]


The Deschutes County board of commissioners passed a groundwater regulation in 2008. County residents who objected to the new ordinance circulated petitions to force the new ordinance to a vote of the people through the county's veto referendum process.[2]

The new ordinance required homeowners in the southern part of the county to upgrade septic systems to models that do a better job of reducing nitrates. Specifically:

  • All septic systems must upgrade to an approved nitrate reducing system over the next fourteen years.
  • 6,500 existing septic units in southern Deschutes County are affected by this requirement.
  • New systems will cost property owners between $7,000-$16,000.[3]

After the signatures were collected, County District Attorney Mike Dugan wrote a ballot title for the ballot item. Supporters of the referendum believed that title to be unfair and non-neutral and filed a lawsuit to get it changed. That lawsuit was heard by Deschutes County Circuit Judge Michael Adler. Adler ruled in favor of Dugan's ballot title in mid-January, leaving the title as is. La Pine resident Ron Sharbaugh argued, unsuccessfully, that the ballot description should include specific townships and ranges of where the requirements will take effect.[3]

Effect of a "yes" vote

Voting "yes" agreed with the ordinance passed by the Deschutes County board in 2008.

Effect of a "no" vote

A "no" vote was a vote to overturn or nullify the groundwater ordinance passed by the Deschutes County board in 2008.

External links