New “Water ‘Management’ Rule” by WA State Dept. of Ecology a “travesty”
Public comment for the Local Leaders’ Water Group Meeting
by Marguerite Glover
Sequim, WA – Here is my public comment for the Local Leaders’ Water Group Meeting on the 12th of December. I plan on being there; but, I may have to leave early. I also want to submit my comments about Casselary Creek, separately. Thank you.
It irritates and frustrates me that the main purpose of today’s meeting is to congratulate the Local Leaders and others, for putting into place the Dungeness Water Management Rule.
This Rule penalizes rural landowners who do, or who will, draw water from a well. Not all of those wells capture water that would go to a stream or the River–whether in Summer, or at another time of the year. Many of these rural landowners have small farms that feed them, and/or bring fruits and vegetables to local farmers’ markets.
I personally know of many orchards that provide apples, pears, plums, and cherries to the Sequim Food Bank, to churches, to families, for eating, for pies, cobblers, for cider, juice, etc.
The Department of Ecology has not told us that this onerous Rule will put any water into the River or the streams. They have not told us that it will ensure more fish. They have told us that water will cost more money.
And, that ,some areas, where there are many 5, 10, 20, and larger, acre parcels, will not be able to irrigate outside at all–or, to buy outside irrigation water, or stock water.
This is a travesty. Were those people told? Did they know this would happen to them, so they could testify at the public hearing? No. Those bedrock areas, up in the foothills, do not have aquifers; and, the hydrology is not well understood.
ARE those wells impacting streams and the River? When? In the late Summer, when the water is critical for fish? I sincerely doubt it. Those bedrock fissure wells that are used in the late Summer–if they impact the streams and River at all, would not do it immediately.
Previously, the irrigation ditches leaked. They provided water to the streams, and to the upper aquifer. They created and maintained wetlands. They kept Cassalery Creek, Matriotti Creek, Bell Creek, and McDonald Creek, going, in the Summer.
The irrigation districts continue to dump Dungeness River water into McDonald Creek, and most likely, other creeks, too. But, this Rule mostly goes after permit exempt wells. Groundwater withdrawals, not direct surface water withdrawals.
The Rule spends huge amounts of money to maintain a Water Exchange–with salaries, transaction fees, calculations about water transfers, etc. Clallam County will have to pay staff to monitor the water usage, as well. People will have to pay mitigation money to get small amounts of water.
We don’t even know how much outside irrigation water they will be able to buy, and what it will cost them. They will have to buy wireless meters for their wells. They will have to forego farm animals or orchards or lawns or gardens or greenhouses, in some cases.
Large amounts of money will be spent for aquifer recharge–when leaky irrigation ditches did that job for free. Recycled water will be sold, at a premium. Class A water systems will be required to conserve more water; and, they will be asked to sell the portion of their Water Right that is conserved, to the Water Bank.
A huge bureaucracy. For what? To put more water back in the River? That was already done, when large water rights were relinquished, after five years of non-use.
And, when the irrigators quit using so much water, and conserved a lot of water. These amounts of water were/are more than what all the permit exempt wells can possibly impact.
When we had less water in the Dungeness River, we had more fish.
This Water Rule is not about fish. It is about power, control, and money.
This Water Management Rule is a travesty; and I do not celebrate its passage.
Marguerite A Glover
Sequim WA 98382
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