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Funding the future of our outdoor water

The Department of Ecology will allocate $100,000 to explore options of getting mitigation water to areas above the irrigation lines (areas outside the public irrigation districts or company service areas), according to Mike Gallagher, Water Resources Section head for Department of Ecology Southwest Region.

Under the Dungeness Water Resources Management Rule, thousands of acres within the Water Resources Inventory Area 18 does not have access to outdoor water use.

Gallagher said he anticipates he’ll know by the end of June whether the Department of Ecology will hire a consultant directly or if the funds will be put into local county hands to be spent accordingly.

“Basically it will pay for a study to begin to identify the different options to get additional water to the yellow area,” Gallagher said.

The “yellow area” refers to the more southern portion within the Dungeness Watershed that the Dungeness Water Rule has classified for domestic (indoor) water use only. Some of areas affected within the yellow area include the upper reaches of Palo Alto Road, Taylor Cutoff Road and Blue Mountain Road, Texas Valley and even parts of Happy Valley.

Following the new water management rule effective on Jan. 2, 2013, no new outdoor water use is allowed at these locations because there is “no water available to offset any outdoor water use,” Gallagher said. Any mitigation water (water to compensate or offset impacts of the use on stream flows) for outdoor use of property above the irrigation lines must either be captured on site or transported.

Both are expensive options, Gallagher said.

Most parcels within the southern portion of the Water Resources Inventory Area 18 tend to be large pieces of property, said Marguerite Glover, a local realtor who has been active in water discussions. Because large pieces of property typically appeal to people with the desire to garden and use outdoor water, Glover “feels sorry for anyone who owns land within the yellow area and can’t use outdoor water.”

The lack of outdoor water at some of these “big, beautiful pieces of property” has caused a shift in the real estate marketplace, Glover said. For example, property with maybe an “old crumbly trailer on it, but with outdoor water available” will likely sell in lieu of a large piece of property with a nicer house.

“The idea is to turn more yellow into green, but that is a big and expensive undertaking,” Glover said.

The $100,000 the Department of Ecology has set aside from the capital budget to explore additional mitigation water for the yellow area is thus only a start to much more work and research to come.

 

Reach Alana Linderoth at alinderoth@sequimgazette.com.

 

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