Final Clallam watershed hearing held

Clallam County commissioners will study the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan for another week before approving the controversial proposal or sending it back to planners.

Repudiating it outright is not an option under state law, according to commissioner chairman Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness.

“I expect it will take us a week or so for us to reach a consensus,” he said, indicating that commissioners will discuss it at their planning session on Monday morning at the county courthouse.

“We’re not in a position to reject the plan.”

Rejection, though, was in the mind of many of the 31 citizens who testified at the final hearing of three on the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan, officially known as the Water Resource Inventory Area 18 Plan, or WRIA 18.

Most of those who testified said they live in the Dungeness Valley, and most of them don’t like the watershed proposal.

Jerry Strawn, a Realtor from Sequim, said the plan might increase the cost of housing in the area, where the mean price of a three-bedroom home rose from $250,000 in 2003 to $280,000 in 2004.

Flawed method

Robert Crittenden of Sequim called it a flawed method of dealing with Clallam County’s change from an agricultural area to an urban one.

Sue Forde, also of Sequim and Tharinger’s Republican opponent in the 2003 commissioner election, was one of several speakers who thought the plan was the state Department of Ecology’s back-door attack on the 5,000-gallon-per-day limit on private water wells.

“DOE’s aim is to get control of the private, exempt wells,” she said.

Marguerite Glover of Sequim concurred.

“Government always likes control,” she said.

“They feel they have to help us to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

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