Ecology to pay for water use credits in Dungeness watershed

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– The state will continue to pay for certificates required under the Dungeness Water Rule for new water users in the Dungeness Valley.

Sheila Roark Miller, Clallam County’s community development director, reported last week that officials with the state Department of Ecology will roll over unspent grant money to pay for certificates required of new-home builders in the county’s East End into next year.

“Merry Christmas from the DOE,” Roark Miller said.

Under the Dungeness Water Rule, implemented Jan. 2, those who build new homes in the eastern portion of Water Resource Inventory Area 18 are required to obtain mitigation certificates to draw water from wells.

When the Dungeness Water Rule was established, the Legislature allotted $100,000 to pay for the initial certificates. That money was set to expire at the end of this year.

Thus far in 2013, the county has processed 17 mitigation credits for new homes.

More homes were built in the Dungeness Valley, Roark Miller said, but were not required to mitigate water use, primarily because they’re water is supplied by Class A water systems.

Certificates for indoor use are $1,000 each, which means $83,000 of the Ecology grant was not spent in the first year.

Roark Miller reported that Tom Loranger, Ecology’s water resource program manager, said Thursday that the county will be able to use that money next year to cover the cost of the certificates.

The water rule requires new water users purchase mitigation credits, documented with the certificates, to offset new water users in the area, which spans from Bagley Creek to Sequim Bay.

Certificates are acquired through the county in the building permit process or when landowners apply to use water for a new purpose.

The funding only covers certificates that allow indoor domestic use of water from the Dungeness watershed.

Those that irrigate pay higher prices depending on their uses.

Revenue from the certificates is to be used for projects that build up the valley’s water supply.

Seattle-based Washington Water Trust manages that through a contract with Clallam County.

The Sequim Gazette reported last week that the Washington Water Trust finalized on Nov. 22 a purchase of 175 acre-feet of water from the Dungeness Water Users Association, the organization of irrigators in the Dungeness Valley.

Purchase price, according to the Gazette’s report, was $350,000.

The water will be used to feed a reserve from which the mitigation water is drawn and for projects to increase water levels in the aquifers beneath the valley.

One acre-foot of water equates to 325,851 gallons.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 08. 2013 6:02PM
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