Port Angeles Business Association backs change to Dungeness Water Rule

Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Business Association supports the Olympic Resource Protection Council petition to amend the Dungeness Water Rule.

In a Jan. 28 letter to the state Department of Ecology, the group said, “We have been concerned that the rule imposes unreasonable restrictions on private exempt well water use, with serious effects on the economic development of our area.”

The letter signed by PABA President Jack Glaubert, urged the state to “work with all stakeholders to amend the rule to create a balanced and effective water management program for the Dungeness basin as requested in the petition.”

The Olympic Resource Protection Council filed the petition with Ecology on Jan. 21 for a major overhaul of the year-old plan for water management in the Dungeness River basin.

Kristina Nelson-Gross, one of the council’s attorneys, said Ecology misused a statutory justification known as “overriding consideration of public interest” when it set the minimum flow for the Dungeness Basin.

The group cited an October ruling by the state Supreme Court that Ecology overstepped its bounds when it used the overriding-consideration-of-public-interest defense to justify allocating more water from the Skagit River watershed for use in the agricultural and building industries.

The council believes the Supreme Court’s ruling nullifies the local water reservation.

Nelson-Gross said that the court defined water reservations made under management rules to be de facto water rights to the river.

As such, she said, the water rule created a water right that goes above what is available in the river by unnecessarily limiting water use by property owners and businesses.

Ecology has 60 days to respond to the council’s petition.

Implemented Jan. 2 last year, the water rule sets minimum flow levels for the river and its tributaries.

The rule covers the eastern half of Water Resource Inventory Area 18, from Bagley Creek to Sequim Bay.

Last modified: February 02. 2014 6:22PM
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