Forks implements emergency water restrictions – PDN

The drought is not over folks, just because we got rain. In fact, the forecasts for the next year is for no real relief. Forks has one of 5 city wells shut down, and appears to be in a bad situation for the near term. In Port Townsend, with minimal rationing going on, there still is no talk about backup plans for next year. You would think that if our politicians understood the issue, they would be looking into drilling wells around the county. Just what is their plan if the snows do not materialize this year?

Forks implements emergency water restrictions due to well levels

Sunshine Coast bans all watering, moves to Stage 4 restrictions – CBC

Our neighbors to the north have moved to banning all outside tap water use. I assume we are not far behind. Or should be!

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) declared Stage 4 water restrictions Tuesday morning, banning all outdoor tap water use, effective Thursday, Aug. 13. It’s believed to be the first region in B.C. to enact such a ban. Residential and commercial water users are subject to the new rules, as the district says only commercial food growers with farm status and water meters are exempt from the ban. (CBC)

Lack of water could temporarily shut down Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill – PDN

Charlie Berman reports on the ongoing discussions between the city of Port Townsend and the PT Paper Mill Corp. As stated in the article, it appears that the City is using approx. 2 Million gallons a day (previous estimates I’ve read placed it at 1 M gallons but perhaps this is based on older information). The mill uses approx 8 Million gallons a day currently,and even in temporary shutdown could still use a significant amount. Read the whole story and support local journalism by subscribing to the Peninsula Daily News.

Group to sue state over Dungeness water rule – PDN

Sad, but expected. They likely will lose, as other suits have, and cost the State hundreds of thousands to defend.

The Olympic Resource Protection Council has decided it will sue the state over a rule that governs water use in the Dungeness Valley. In a meeting Thursday night at the Sequim library, the group membership agreed to pursue a lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology in an effort to force the agency to review the Dungeness Water Rule…. Water use in the basin was restricted by the Dungeness Water Rule, a measure instituted January 2013 by Ecology with the aim of preserving water in the Dungeness River for both human use and for aquatic species when its flow diminishes in dry summer months. Joe Smillie (Peninsula Daily News)

Washington Supreme Court Rules For Tribe In Skagit Case – Earthfix

This decision has huge ramifications. The Tribes have always said that they have the right to go after upstream water regulations within the watersheds if the State didn’t appropriately protect the salmon stream flows, and now the Supreme Court has agreed with them.

A Western Washington tribe Thursday won a legal victory that will ensure more water stays in the Skagit River to help salmon and steelhead. The decision could affect 6,000 landowners who were allocated water under rules that have now been struck down. That figure includes more than 600 residents with homes that have already been built. The Washington state Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Ecology overstepped its authority in allocating water from the Skagit River for new development.

This has to do with the Washington Instream Rule and whether the State has been doing the correct job in balancing water use for development and water use for fish.  The virtually unregulated use of water for any and all comers is a throwback to the 1800s, and it is widely understood now that rivers can have too much water taken out of them, and the local aquifers  which often recharge them.

This will be coming to a county near you here on the Peninsula soon, due to this decision. The good news is that the counties here and the Tribes have been working very cooperatively to work this out. There are still some locations to be worked out, but this should help clarify those discussions.


And this:

Ecology director committed to finding water supply solutions in the Skagit Basin after state Supreme Court ruling

OLYMPIA – Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon today renewed her commitment to ensuring adequate water supplies for home owners and stream flows in the Skagit Basin after Ecology’s 2006 water management rule for the Skagit Basin was invalidated.

The Washington state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 today that Ecology in 2006 exceeded its authority in setting aside water reservations for new uses in the Skagit. The 2006 rule amended a 2001 water management rule that protected stream flows basin-wide.

A reservation is a specific amount of water set aside for specific uses in watersheds closed to new groundwater wells. In the case of the Skagit, these reservations have provided a source of water for homes, agriculture, livestock and businesses since 2001. The court today ruled in Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Department of Ecology that Ecology cannot set aside reservations of water through adoption of water management rules where water was previously set aside to support stream flows for fish. Without water reservations, later water uses can be interrupted when dry spells impact the protected stream flows. Ecology found in 2006 that limited reservations would not substantially harm fish populations. The Swinomish Tribe challenged the establishment of the reservations in 2008 and appealed a Thurston County Superior Court finding in Ecology’s favor in 2010.

“I am disappointed in today’s ruling but no less committed to finding water supply solutions for homes and businesses,” Bellon said. “We will be working with local partners to manage the water supply in the Skagit Basin to ensure stream flows are protected and the needs of existing and future water users are met.”

A total of 475 homes and 8 businesses have relied on Skagit reservations for their water supplies since 2001. Ecology will be looking for water supply solutions for those homes and businesses who are affected by today’s ruling.

Ecology is assessing today’s decision and how it may affect water management in other areas of the state.

For today’s court decision, go to:

Public comment period begins today on proposed water management rule for the Dungeness

OLYMPIA – The public can submit comments beginning today on a proposed water management rule for the Dungeness watershed.

If adopted, the new rule drafted by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will protect existing water supplies for current uses and fish habitat and make it easier for local governments to affirm that water is legally available for future water uses. The new rule will bring certainty to the process of obtaining water for new uses in a basin where a growing population and limited water availability have prevented Ecology from permitting new water rights since the 1990s.

A new water management rule for the Dungeness has been recommended by the Local Leaders Water Management Group, which has been working with Ecology since February 2011 to identify water supply issues in the watershed and recommend solutions. Members of the LLWG (their acronym) include Clallam County, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, city of Sequim, the Sequim-Dungeness Water Users Association, and Ecology.

“The draft water management rule for the Dungeness basin is an excellent example of what collaboration and cooperation between state government and the local community can achieve in protecting our water resources,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “This rule if adopted will ensure that the water needs of local residents as well as growth and economic development and fish habitat are met into the future.”

The proposed rule would:

  • Establish instream flow levels (a water right for the stream) in the Dungeness to protect fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Establish reserves of water for future indoor domestic use.
  • Allow water storage projects.
  • Require mitigation for all new use of water, including permit-exempt wells.
  • Require measuring of new water use.
  • Close surface water to new withdrawals with the exception of seasonal water from the Dungeness.

The new rule will not affect:

  • Existing water rights at the time the rule becomes effective (tentatively in the fall of 2012), including continued use of permit-exempt wells where regular beneficial use began previously.
  • Tribal or federal reserved rights to water.

An economic Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) has been completed for the proposed rule which has been filed with the state code reviser. Over 20 years, the analysis shows the projected benefits of adopting the new rule exceeding the costs.

The proposed water management rule for the Dungeness is available online. Visitors to the Website can get directions on submitting comments electronically on the rule, submitting comments by e-mail or by mailing comments to Ecology. Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. July 9, 2012. Ecology expects adoption of the rule no earlier than August 31, 2012.

An open house and public hearing on the proposed rule is scheduled Thursday, June 28, 2012, at the Guy Cole Center in Carrie Blake Park, 202 North Blake Ave. in Sequim, WA.

  • Open house beginning at 5 p.m.
  • Presentation with a question and answer session at 6 p.m. followed by a public hearing.


Media Contacts:

  • Dan Partridge, 360-407-7139 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 360-407-7139 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;
  • Linda Kent, 360-407-6239 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 360-407-6239 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

Ecology’s Dungeness Water Management website (

Bill that would allow construction in low-flow stream basins is dead

While not specifically about the Peninsula, this bill was a bad idea that could have affected us. This is what the battles here over the Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA) are about. Endangered salmon having enough water to spawn, or homeowners being able to drill ever more wells, and withdraw that water from the area.

Legislation that would have allowed people to build homes in areas closed to construction last year has been pulled by its author. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen pulled her bill, Senate Bill 6312, which would have allowed landowners in the Fisher, Carpenter and East Nookachamps stream basins to build homes. Last summer, the Department of Ecology said there was too much water being withdrawn from the Fisher-Carpenter creek basins and that salmon could be harmed as a result. Ecology closed the basins to residential well drilling, effectively curtailing all residential development there.

Bill that would allow construction in low-flow stream basins is dead

If you are interested in reading more on the science behind the politics of in-stream flow…here is a starting point.

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