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Commentary: How will the DOE Dungeness Water Rule work in Clallam County?

by Pearl Rains-Hewett
Behind My Back.org

Posted 2/5/2013

It happened  in Skagit County, and now it has happened  in Clallam County.

The SKAGIT River Flow Management Committee is comprised of the groups that signed the original agreement: Skagit County, the PUD, Anacortes, Ecology, state Fish and Wildlife, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the Upper Skagit Tribe and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe.

“The Dungeness Exchange will have a local advisory board with invited representation from Clallam County, Department of Ecology, the Dungeness Water Users Association, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, City of Sequim, Clallam PUD No.1, Clallam Conservation District and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.”



01/05/13 Email from Marguerite Glover –

DUNGENESS

Do you remember at the Workshop, on January 17, at the Marina, when the question was asked who would be on the Advisory Board for the Dungeness Water Exchange, that they didn’t know the answer? Of course, they knew. At least they knew what agencies/groups would be involved (Invited to participate). They had talked about that before, at the Local Leaders’ Water Group. Did anyone think that a builder, REALTOR®, someone from business or industry, would be on the Board? Here’s the group that will receive invitations for the Board (note that the date for this page/posting is January 16, 2013, the day before the workshop). “The Exchange will have a local advisory board with invited representation from Clallam County, Department of Ecology, the Dungeness Water Users Association, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, City of Sequim, Clallam PUD No.1, Clallam Conservation District and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

Is anyone impacted by this Rule, more than individual well users, and those people who are on small (Group B) water systems? Wouldn’t you think that someone representing them, should be on the Board? Maybe even a well driller!

 

The link for the Dungeness Water Exchange Page on WWT’s website: http://www.washingtonwatertrust.org/news?id=35

Marguerite


 

I agree with Marguerite, we need a stakeholders representative on all Dungeness Water Rule Committees.

At the Workshop, on January 17, at the Marina, when the question was asked who would be on the Advisory Board for the Dungeness Water Exchange?

There are stakeholder trust issues with the appointed DOE committees.

Pearl Rains Hewett

 


 

SKAGIT Dahlstedt said the state, the city of Anacortes’ water utility and the PUD have all of the water — not the county. The committee should consider adding a landowner from the affected closure area to its ranks, commissioners say.

SKAGIT “We don’t have the authority to grant or not grant water,” Dahlstedt said. “Being that they are talking about property rights, they should deal with the people that are the property owners. We believe there should be a (landowner) representative there.”

SKAGIT But members of the SKAGIT  River Flow Management Committee, including two water purveyors in the county, disagree, saying landowners should not have a seat at the table.

Continue reading if you are interested.

Posted 8/27/2012

MOUNT VERNON — Skagit County commissioners say “They spent $10 million over how many years fighting for water rights and then over the past six months, they’ve also just backed away and said ‘It’s not my fight anymore. Citizens of Skagit County, you’re on your own,’” Buckenmeyer said.

In 1996, all of the agencies signed a 50-year agreement for water use in the hopes of avoiding lawsuits. The Skagit River Flow Management Committee is comprised of the groups that signed the original agreement: Skagit County, the PUD, Anacortes, Ecology, state Fish and Wildlife, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the Upper Skagit Tribe and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe.

“The PUD would be in support of any reasonable alternative for mitigation that’s going to allow people to build on their property,” he said. “That said, the people need to express that idea.”

Anacortes Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer had advanced the idea of trucked water to rural homes as early as March with the support of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. In past years, Buckenmeyer said at least two property owners were turned down when they asked for the option to import water to their property and store it on site.

The cost of on-site water storage is significant: between $18,000 and $24,000 for a system, which does not include the cost to truck in water at regular intervals.

My daughter lives in Anacortes, She brought this Skagit County WATER FIGHT to my attention.

It’s happening there, and if we allow the Dungeness Water Rule in Clallam County, we can expect the same.

 


 

Full Skagit County story referenced above follows:

Commissioners won’t write regulation for trucked water

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 1:00 am | Updated: 10:30 am, Wed Aug 22, 2012.

By Kate Martin
GO Skagit

Clarifies a statement from Travis Stanton, who does not support trucked water.

MOUNT VERNON — Skagit County commissioners say they don’t want to waste time and money writing a county regulation for something landowners are not asking for — trucked water.

Commissioners wrote as much last week in a letter to members of the Skagit River Flow Management Committee, which is tasked with making decisions about the Skagit River water supply. Last week the committee asked that the county accept state money to write the regulation.

The county’s current code does not forbid trucked water, and each use would be approved on a case-by-case basis, commissioners wrote.

Anacortes Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer had advanced the idea of trucked water to rural homes as early as March with the support of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. In past years, Buckenmeyer said at least two property owners were turned down when they asked for the option to import water to their property and store it on site.

Skagit Public Utility District General Manager Bob Powell said without a code specifically allowing the use of trucked water, there is an implied refusal.

But Powell said his phone isn’t ringing off the hook with residents asking for trucked water — and therein lies the problem.

“The PUD would be in support of any reasonable alternative for mitigation that’s going to allow people to build on their property,” he said. “That said, the people need to express that idea.”

Powell called the commissioners’ letter a “typical response” from the county.

“Historically the county hasn’t been too willing to engage other than to engage in some legal battle that’s gotten us nowhere,” Powell said.

Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt said he took offense to that statement because the county is not involved in active litigation.

Earlier this year, commissioners said they would no longer spend taxpayer dollars in the legal fight for water in the Skagit River valley.

Dahlstedt said the state, the city of Anacortes’ water utility and the PUD have all of the water — not the county. The committee should consider adding a landowner from the affected closure area to its ranks, commissioners say.

“We don’t have the authority to grant or not grant water,” Dahlstedt said. “Being that they are talking about property rights, they should deal with the people that are the property owners. We believe there should be a (landowner) representative there.”

But members of the Skagit River Flow Management Committee, including two water purveyors in the county, disagree, saying landowners should not have a seat at the table.

Buckenmeyer sees the commissioners’ decision in a different light.

“They spent $10 million over how many years fighting for water rights and then over the past six months, they’ve also just backed away and said ‘It’s not my fight anymore. Citizens of Skagit County, you’re on your own,’” Buckenmeyer said.

In 1996, all of the agencies signed a 50-year agreement for water use in the hopes of avoiding lawsuits. The Skagit River Flow Management Committee is comprised of the groups that signed the original agreement: Skagit County, the PUD, Anacortes, Ecology, state Fish and Wildlife, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the Upper Skagit Tribe and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe.

The idea back then, Powell said, was that the county would represent all rural landowners.

Property owner Paul Hagman said he thinks the county has tried to advocate for landowners. He owns property on Starbird Road in the Carpenter-Fisher basin.

“I think they’ve tried. But when you have the Department of Ecology and the (Swinomish) Tribe against you, it’s so discouraging,” Hagman said. “They are using taxpayer money to fight each other. Who wins? Nobody wins.”

After the legislative session, Ecology was awarded $2.2 million to pay for studies and water mitigation in the closed basin, and another nearby that is nearly closed. But Hagman said he is skeptical that any good will come of it.

“They gave it to the people that I think are the root of the problem,” he said.

Hagman said the agency should abandon its quest for trucked water, calling the idea “completely stupid.”

The cost of on-site water storage is significant: between $18,000 and $24,000 for a system, which does not include the cost to truck in water at regular intervals.

Travis Stanton, who owns land just south of the county line, said he’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on interest payments alone for land he can no longer build on. He found out about the closure in September when he approached the county for a building permit. His land is now relatively worthless compared to when he bought it, he said.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said. “Donate it to charity? I’m just one of many. I’d love to see this move forward.”

However, he doesn’t believe that trucked water is the solution due to the cost to landowners, as well as wear and tear on rural roads.

Solutions might not be forthcoming until after a state Supreme Court case between the Swinomish and Ecology is resolved as early as this fall. The tribe takes issue with a 2006 agreement between Ecology and Skagit County, which set up the limits on residential growth requiring water wells.

The Swinomish suit says the addition of water reservations means more water has been taken away from the salmon, upon which their culture heavily relies.

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