At the City Council meeting on August 19, additional information came to light regarding Rogue Ales not being in compliance with the Citys wastewater treatment requirements. Actually, Rogue has not been in compliance for quite some time (at least since early 2017). At that Council meeting, the Newport Public Works Director said that this continued violation, with only intermittent compliance, is costing us a significant amount of dollars.
Obviously, this costly issue could not be solved overnight, but only just recently has the paperwork been issued by the City to Rogue with Rogue to engage the engineers needed to meet wastewater specifications. However, apparently, the fines issued by the City were not enough to motivate Rogue into being a responsible citizen in a timely manner. Possibly Rogue found it cheaper to pay the fines than to save the citizens of Newport the cost of cleaning up after them. In addition, it will be interesting to see the results of the Citys negotiations with Rogue and Rogues non-compliance in paying the Citys transient room tax for their short-term rentals on Bay Boulevard. Rogue admits they have been negligent in paying those taxes since at least 2012.
I have attended City Council work sessions as well as Council regular meetings where the subject of Newport’s policy of voluntary compliance (see voluntary compliance/violations/penalties in the Newport Municipal Code) has been discussed. It is unfortunate that voluntary compliance is ripe for abuse. However, given there is abuse, the City needs to better protect taxpayer dollars and reform the City code. Rogue Ales should be paying its fair share so the residents of Newport aren’t left footing the bill.
Mona Linstromberg, Newport
Response from City of Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross:
Working with Rogue has been challenging and it has certainly taken longer than I would like for them to respond in a responsible way. That said, developing a pretreatment program at Rogue is an incredibly complex and difficult thing to do. The monitoring station that Rouge was required to install in 2017 finally provided incontrovertible ongoing documentation of the strength and type of waste that Rogue was generating. This data was used to craft an industrial user permit specific to Rogue. They have hired engineers and are working toward implementation of a pretreatment system. Yes, the City has levied significant fines against Rogue for continued violation of wastewater code and I cannot comment if the ongoing fines stimulated Rogue’s increased level of effort to address the problem. You can be assured that the City will take whatever action is necessary to protect the ratepayers and infrastructure of our City, while at the same time working with Rogue as a valued member of the Newport community to help them come into compliance.
Timothy Gross, PE
Public Works Director/City Engineer
City of Newport