Clallam: Commissioners in no hurry to act on watershed plan

The public process on a controversial water plan will sound a lot more like “drip, drip, drip” than “whoosh,” Clallam County commissioners indicated Monday.

Reviewing the status of the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan, they adopted a timetable that will trickle into February.

As proposed by Cynthia Nelson of the state Department of Ecology, the time will be spent soliciting comments from Clallam County’s partner governments in the plan for Water Resource Inventory Area 18 (WRIA 18), which embraces the county’s two most-populous drainage basins.

Following that process, vested interests in water issues — such as well drillers, homebuilders, and Realtors — would be asked for their input.

Essentially, the schedule gives all parties another chance to examine the plan and suggest changes to it.

County water policy

The plan would guide the county’s water policy, including local government’s privilege to grant well rights in the region.

Interested parties have already had four years to involve themselves with the process, Commissioner Mike Doherty, D-Port Angeles, said Monday.

But Commissioner Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness, said it was the legislative agency — the county — that naturally caught most of the controversy.

Tharinger urged water planners to solicit comments from “those folks who felt they were excluded from the plan, those really critical interest groups who are really impacted.”

“Where the water meets the tap is where we should start focusing,” he said.

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