More delay on Clallam watershed plan

“Hold your water” was the Clallam County commissioners’ message Monday to citizens awaiting a decision on a controversial plan for lands drained to the Elwha and Dungeness rivers.

It will be at least two weeks — probably more — before commissioners approve or send back to planners the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan, also known as Water Resource Inventory Area 18 or WRIA 18.

In the meantime, the county’s environmental health planners will study the 1-inch-thick stack of written comments they recently received.

“Our analysis is halfway through,” said Ann Soule, groundwater specialist with the county Environmental Health Services department.

Commissioners also will query their partners in the plan — the public agencies that also authored and took testimony on the proposal but who have not received so much public comment.

The partners consist of “initiating governments” that include the city of Port Angeles, Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and Agnew Irrigation District.

Other participating agencies are the city of Sequim, Clallam County Public Utility District and Clallam Conservation District.

Early approvals

Most other governments approved WRIA 18 in April — before its details became known and generated public debate and controversy.

“Our partners probably adopted this without a lot of public testimony,” said Commissioner Mike Chapman, R-Port Angeles, noting that dozens of people spoke at the county’s three public hearings, many of them critical of the plan.

“I don’t want to speak for the partners in this process. I want them to have their opportunity to speak,” Chapman said.

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