The Dungeness River Coalition recently sent a video to state officials in Olympia to help demonstrate the benefits of its proposed Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir project. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Dungeness River Coalition sends video to lawmakers considering land transfer

SEQUIM — The Dungeness River Coalition recently sent a film to state officials in Olympia to illustrate a proposed project before final legislative budgets are passed.

The coalition released a seven-minute video called “Collaborative Solutions: Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir” demonstrating the benefits and operations of the proposed Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir project, it announced in a March press release.

The video recently was delivered to the state Legislature in Olympia, where the Senate Ways and Means Committee and House Capital Budget Committee are considering a transfer of state-owned land and grant funding to support the project.

“It’s an effective tool to be able to describe what some of the challenges are,” said Jason Hatch, project manager for Washington Water Trust and part of the Dungeness River Coalition.

Hatch explained the video is a visual way to tell the coalition’s story.

“It’s to demonstrate that this unique coalition of stakeholders has come together to create and identify solutions of the water challenges in the Dungeness,” he said.

The Dungeness River stakeholders include the Dungeness Water Users Association of irrigators, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Washington Water Trust, Clallam Conservation District, city of Sequim, Clallam County and state Department of Ecology.

The video introduced coalition members, outlined problems the project would address and demonstrated how the reservoir would benefit the local farm economy, tribal community, residents and visitors of Sequim.

The $24 million to $35 million Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir would include a new 88-acre reservoir along the Dungeness River inside a proposed 320-acre Clallam County park off River Road in Sequim.

The proposed project’s purpose is to store water in the winter and spring to help with river flow late in the irrigation season, contain possible flooding during heavy rains and help endangered salmon returning to spawn.

The news release stated the film illustrated benefits of the project such as a 40 percent improvement in stream flows for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead, while securing late-season irrigation water for area farmers in low water years and groundwater aquifer recharge.

The coalition is waiting for a possible transfer of several hundred acres of state-owned land from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) it would use to provide an ideal place for the project.

“The coalition is hopeful for the successful transfer of the DNR parcel, requested by Clallam County,” the news release stated.

“DNR has expressed support for this transfer, and it is currently under consideration with the state Legislature on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the House Capital Budget Committee.”

David Garlington, Sequim public works director, said he is hoping the transfer will happen during this legislative session.

He explained the coalition wanted to “get the video out so people in the legislative community are aware of this need.”

Garlington said the coalition should hear a decision on the transfer of the DNR parcel by June as the Senate and House are putting together a capital budget.

Getting the property for the project is the first step, he explained, and if the transfer of land is not approved this legislative session, he said the coalition can look for other sources of revenue.

“If it doesn’t [get approved], it doesn’t mean it’s a no go,” Garlington said. An alternative option could be the coalition purchases property from the DNR so it can move forward and find a site for the project.

The news release also said the coalition is pursuing grant funding for property acquisition and final design from the state Floodplains by Design program, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund.

A FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant also was submitted to cover stormwater capture elements of the project.

For more information about this video or the Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir project, visit www.washingtonwatertrust.org/off-channel-reservoir-proposal.

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Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at ehawkins@sequimgazette.com.