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Commission cites concerns with Water Rule

 

Sequim Gazette staff


Clallam County commissioners approved their formal comments on the Dungeness Water Management rule during their regular meeting, Tuesday, July 3. The comments call into question a number of aspects of the rule, which would impose new conditions on private wells in much of rural eastern Clallam County.

 

In their comments the commissioners say, “our concerns are centered on the impact of the rule on the county’s present and future residents in the Dungeness area.”

 

They stressed the need for the rule to be enacted “quickly, fairly and without ambiguity, so that your agency will not be tied up in court … and cause extended periods of economic uncertainty.”

 

The commissioners said there “is uncertainty among many of our citizens regarding the integrity of the process leading up to the rule’s economic analysis and therefore its validity.” They included in their comments a request for an independent review of the rule’s cost-benefit analysis. “We want to make sure the public has confidence in their analysis,” said Commissioner Jim McEntire.

 

Citing potential liability issues, the commissioners “strongly urged” Ecology to notify all landowners in the affected area regarding the rule’s requirements.

 

The commissioners also asked for more information regarding the proposed water exchange. “Where is the mitigation water likely to come from to supply the exchange over the next 20 years, especially for the small sub-basins?”

 

In recent weeks McEntire has proposed withdrawing the “water exchange” from the rule, with the needed “mitigation” water to be obtained through a single transaction.

 

The commissioners’ comments support that idea, saying the state could perhaps purchase or lease water, “obviating the need for each new home to visit a local water bank.”

 

At press time, the comment letter was awaiting one final review by Commissioner Jim McEntire, who has served as the commission’s point man on the rule.

 

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