A judge approved a settlement between Roseburg Forest Products and the City of Weed, California, last week, ending a two-year legal dispute over water rights.
Under terms of the settlement, the City of Weed agreed the company owns the exclusive right to divert and use 4.07 cubic feet per second of Beaughan Springs water and the City of Weed acknowledged that it has no ownership interest in the water and agreed to end all claims to the water rights.
“We are pleased that the two parties reached an agreement concerning ownership of the Beaughan Springs water rights,” Roseburg Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stuart Gray said. “This litigation was never about monetary compensation. Our intent all along was simply to have the court uphold our clearly established ownership rights and eliminate challenges to such.”
The City of Weed signed a lease with the company in 2016 to access 1.5 cubic feet per second of water from the spring for the next 10 to 15 years. The city is exploring alternative sources for when the lease expires.
Bruce Shoemaker, who was named in a countersuit in 2017 and acts as the media liaison for the nine individuals named in the parallel lawsuit, said the case is more complicated than it seems but essentially boils down to the city couldn’t afford to keep up with the lawsuit.
“This doesn’t prove anything about the water, it just proves that Roseburg Forest Products has more financial resources than the City of Weed did to pursue this case,” Shoemaker said. “It wasn’t decided on its merits. It was decided on who had money for lawyers.”
Roseburg Forest Products bought the veneer plant, which included the springs, from International Paper in Weed in 1983.