Water rule open house, hearing moved to Sequim chuch

Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Thursday’s open house and public hearing on a proposed Dungeness water management rule has been moved from its original location.

The state Department of Ecology moved them to the Sequim Community Church sanctuary, 950 N. Fifth Ave., saying that it will accommodate more people than the Guy Cole Convention Center in Carrie Blake Park on North Blake Avenue.

Ecology also extended the hours for the open house.

The open house will begin at 3:30 p.m. and continue until 6 p.m., when Ecology staff members plan a side presentation and question-and-answer session, followed by a public hearing on the proposed rule.

At the open house, residents can talk one-on-one with Ecology staff about the effects of the proposed rule — known as the in-stream flow rule — on their property. They also can submit written comments.

Comments given at the hearing will be recorded and entered in the public record.

The Dungeness Valley water management rule area extends from Bagley Creek on the west to Sequim Bay on the east.

The Sequim Association of Realtors and statewide Washington Realtors association split the cost of more than $6,000 to mail nearly 24,000 cards to Dungeness Valley-area property owners.

Heidi Hansen, Sequim Association of Realtors president, and Dungeness Valley Realtor Marguerite Glover, who has studied water matters affecting the Dungeness Valley for 30 years, created a website about the rule: http://sequimwater.com/.

Property owners who are not using water when the state adopts the rule — either in August or September — will have to buy water rights through what Ecology officials call mitigation, the Realtors said.

“The rule prohibits new water rights and exempt wells unless mitigation is purchased, and requires metering and reporting of new water uses,” the cards said.

The rule also will affect wells “that are already drilled if water from the well has not yet been used for domestic purposes,” the cards said.

Ecology representatives said the proposed rule would:

-- Establish in-stream flow levels — which comes down to a water right for the stream itself — 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 rule will not affect water rights existing when the rule takes effect or tribal or federal reserved rights to water.

Cynthia Nelson, Ecology spokeswoman, said Clallam County already is required under the Growth Management Act to determine water availability.

“And because of this GMA obligation, they need to make sure folks comply with the rule and mitigation requirement before issuing a building permit,” Nelson said.

She said Ecology might adopt the rule in August, but more likely in September, and it would take effect 31 days after adoption.

Ecology will accept comments on the proposed rule until 5 p.m. July 9. Comments can be given at the public hearing, emailed to awes461@ecy.wa.gov, faxed to 360-715-5225 or mailed by the U.S. Postal Service to Department of Ecology, Bellingham Field Office, Attn: Ann Wessel, 1440 10th St., Suite 102, Bellingham, WA 98225-7028.

Ecology’s site for the proposed water management rule for the Dungeness River is at http://tinyurl.com/yj95yj6.

Last modified: June 26. 2012 6:07PM
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