A legal water question, about “saved water and instream flows”
Open letter from Marguerite Glover
In light of this statement, found in the Water Quantity portion of the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan (adopted in June, 2005),
“At an average water use rate of 350 gallons per day (see discussion of water use rates below), and assuming the higher number (5,616) of residential exempt wells, water demand would be approximately 2 MGD (million gallons per day), or 2,200 AFY (acre-feet per year). If these wells were all in perfect hydraulic continuity with WRIA 18 streams this would equate to a 3 cfs withdrawal spread across all streams in the WRIA (in proportion to well density in each subbasin). However, a general rule of thumb is that 70 percent of residential use returns to groundwater via septic systems, so the net combined effect on all streams in the WRIA would be on the order of 1 cfs or less.”
AND the fact that the Dungeness WUA relinquished some of their water rights, after five years of non-use, plus the relinquishment of other individual surface water rights, AND the fact that they have used far less water than they were adjudicated, AND, the fact that 30.52 cfs and 9,306 AF was deeded by the WUA to Ecology and transferred to permanent trust for instream flow purposes (See page 2 of the Memorandum of Agreement between the WA State Dept of Ecology and the members of the Dungeness River Agricultural Water Users Assoc.), AND the fact that the Water Rule gives the Dungeness River a WATER RIGHT of 180 cfs in the Critical fish time–a right that it did not historically achieve very often, where is the legal requirement to crack down on new uses of wells, which are not direct withdrawals from the River? Ecology has the right to set MINIMUM instream flows, to protect fish.
In addition, since the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan was adopted, Ecology has decided that 90% of domestic (in-home) water use, returns to the aquifer, via septic systems (not 70%)–and, that the “average” household use is 150 gallons (not 350 gallons) per day. So that should bring the total consumptive use down even further.
I believe that the people of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley are being burdened with social, cultural, and economic impacts, with the new Dungeness Water Management Rule, that are beyond the legal scope of the Washington State Department of Ecology, in establishing water budgets and water rights.
Marguerite A Glover
Sequim WA 98382
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