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Voters group to provide forum for watershed issues

The Clallam County League of Women Voters hosts an educational forum in early August to discuss water issues of the Dungeness watershed.

The forum is timely in light of the Department of Ecology's proposed Water Resources Management Program rule, which will be filed next month, Brian Walsh with the department said.

The rule is designed to guide water use for domestic needs, both present and future, while protecting water for important fish species, according to the department.

The Dungeness River is home to four fish listed on the federal Endangered Species Act.

Opponents of the rule say it could force people to join a community water system or render their land unlivable if it isn't possible to join such a system.

Real estate agents and developers are particularly concerned, as water restrictions could inhibit the sale and development of vacant land.

Shirley Nixon, a water lawyer and member of the league, said it wasn't pretty when the first draft of the rule was released.

Many people were angry about the proposed restrictions on water use and the issue of exempt wells, she said.

New water withdrawals, which would include exempt well use, would need to be mitigated by acquiring water rights to offset the new withdrawals on senior water rights, ecology lead Cynthia Nelson said in December.

New wells would be metered and mitigation could be accomplished by participating in a water exchange, she said.

Nixon said the legality of water rights is complicated, on top of the month-by-month unpredictably of the Dungeness River's instream flow levels.

The Department of Ecology is mandated to manage water for public interest as well as the interest of endangered species, she said. In an area where water is scarce, that isn't easy, she said.

Walsh said the final rule is likely to be signed in January 2011 and implemented in February 2011.

The educational forum will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall, 525 N. Fifth Ave., Sequim.

The forum will include presentations on water law, hydrology of the watershed, water use data and trends, planning to prevent scarcity and a question-and-answer segment.



Dungeness watershed forum

Time: 7 p.m.

Date: Wednesday,

Aug. 11

Location: St. Luke's Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall, 525 N. Fifth Ave.



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