Future Water I

A breakdown of bad faith talks between DOE and the Kittitas County Commissioners resulted in an exempt well moratorium in the upper county. Supposedly, it all has to do with the results of a study, already funded by the legislature, on the effects of ground water extraction and surface water. You would think that everyone affected by the moratorium would be following the study closely. Not really. It is a foregone conclusion that future ground water extraction will have to be mitigated. Count on it. In fact, the moratorium could spread to other parts of this county. In retrospect, Jeremy’s point about fact-based decisions is well taken. 

Whatatrip was asking about water information. The Reclamation site is the best tool out there. Here it is:

http://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/yakima/yakstats.html

The BOR, like all federal organizations, don’t always give you straight information because of bureaucracy, political correctness, and legal issues. By reading these numbers regularly you can pretty much determine too much (flood) or too little (drought) water conditions. I like it because you can get a daily water flow for fishing or floating.

I kayak’ed Swauk Creek to Thorp a few days ago. There was a big fly hatch between Swauk and Taneum Creeks and I saw a lot of jumpers. Even spotted one of the guide boats hooked up with a big one. Baby waterfowl are everywhere. I’m glad the floating season is finally here. Speaking of Thorp, don’t forget to attend the Thorp Mill Dinner and Auction at the Party Barn on Sat. May 29th.  BYOB because, as you know, the T&E is no longer with us, RIP.

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76 Responses to Future Water I

  1. Clem says:

    When Issaquah and Sammamish completely tapped out the Issaquah aquifir a number of years ago and the State put a halt to drilling any new wells the two cities didnt start complaining and making a political issue out of it. At a substantial cost they built a pipeline that went several miles to tap into another water source.

    When Suncadia decided to build a number of years ago they didnt insist on drilling unmitigated wells and challenging the State. They bought water rights at a substantial cost to themselves.

    However when the State told the County they had to mitigate future developments they decided to make it a political issue and fight the State. Instead of a “can do” attitude its been “lets take on the state.” If development is stalled here you can blame it on the County and the very poor economy.

    Swauk Creek to Thorp? I know there is a decent amount of water in the creek now but I didnt think there was enough for a Kkayak. I am not a kayaker but I would think it would be kind of rocky.

  2. lordoflys says:

    It’s really a shame that Hinkle has now upped the ante by threatening to sue the state. What he lacks is regional support for this. I don’t know why he doesn’t read these threads (free advice)…If he would examine WHOSE water rights are being protected by the moratorium he would realize that his party, this time, is backing a slow horse. The Yakama Nation, big money agriculture in the Yakima Valley, AND the federal agencies tasked to manage the river system are all sympathetic to this moratorium. Kittitas County missed an opportunity to avoid this move by not mitigating in good faith with DOE last year. I am not entirely satisfied with either party here but Kittitas County has pretty much backed itself into a corner…As I said earlier, the situation is likely to get worse for open range style water usage in this county. And not only us. Long before energy availability becomes critical in this country people will be scrambling for fresh water.

    Clem, I wasn’t too clear on that kayak trip. I put in at the Swauk Creek confluence at the turnout on Hwy 10. It’s a bit of a walk there across the gate, down the hill and over the tracks but the kayak is light. The entire trip was on the Yak. 2 and 1/2 hours. The river is cold but nothing like those damn creeks. I’m not tempting fate by paddling down either Swauk or Taneum, though both could probably be kayaked right now.

  3. fishmonger says:

    Thanks for the plug about the auction, lordoflys. One correction, though, there will be wine and beer available at the dinner/auction. Get the lowdown here http://www.thorp.org/auction.htm It’s a great local tradition for county folks on Saturday night, Memorial Day weekend.

    Threw a 1/4″ brown rooster tail into a nice pool by Dudley Bridge in Thorp and caught a nice 12″ cutbow. I believe fishing will be better this year; that flood really impacted fishing last year.

  4. lordoflys says:

    I hope that you’re right about the fishing. Early signs look good. Fish, do you or have you ever killed a trout that you’ve caught from the Yakima and eaten it? No matter that it’s illegal and that there are plenty of people who would prosecute you for that very reason. Maybe you just like the taste of trout and feel a sense of entitlement for that $26.50 license fee. Or maybe you’ve mortally hooked a fish and are unwilling to release a fish that would surely die anyway.

    I will state here and now that I, lordoflys, have eaten two river trout over the last two seasons. Otherwise, I mostly abide by current regulations. What? OK. I’ve just been criticized for digressing from water issues. I’m outta here.

  5. fishmonger says:

    You can’t be criticized for digressing from water issues if you’re talking about fishing. The health of any river system begins and ends with the amount of trout and salmon it can sustain.

    And yes, I have hooked a trout too deep for a clean hook extraction and have had to wrap in foil with butter and garlic. Only happens once or twice a season and I always apologize to the ospreys and herons.

    No one has mentioned the effect of the bad wells in the lower valley is going to have on the Yakima Basin supply. One in five wells is undrinkable, and they’re going to have to get it somewhere.

  6. lordoflys says:

    If John Wesley Powell could see today what his grand vision for the arid West has turned into he very well may regret his choice of careers. And before I get too far into this discussion I want to make a disclaimer…I have met some of the good people at the Yakima BOR office. They seem quite normal and even allowed me in and answered my questions…all but one.

    When I visited the BOR office on Marsh Road in Yakima I expected to see a single story office with maybe a pickup or two parked outside, shovels at attention. Instead, it looks more like a minimum-security prison, surrounded by razor wire, and a uniformed guard shack guarding the rows of employee cars. I guess that it shouldn’t come as a surprise in an American world of color-coded security threat levels.

    Frankly, it must cost the Dept. of Interior a pile of cash to keep this office open. True, they serve a purpose. But whose? It is NOT a local office. It exists to manage the Yakima Project that it built in 1905. THAT project is what Powell envisioned, presumably as he rafted down a raging Colorado River. Frankly, it was the best thing ever to happen to post-settler Central Washington. But that was then.

    Reclamation manages the dams and collects information on weather and stream flows at beautiful Lake Cle Elum and all the rest of what the BOR refers to as storage reservoirs. As I mentioned earlier (and correctly predicted, thanks) Reclamation predicted a jr. water supply based not only on science, but also on their own safety agenda, as befits any large bureaucracy. Simply speaking, these decisions are something that I would rather task our own state university system with. Signs are becoming evident of not only citizen mistrust of a federal system that seems bloated, but of a breakdown of the system itself. The Dept. of the Interior also runs a sister agency of the BOR called the Minerals Management Service. You may have heard of it lately. This agency has violated, for years, it’s own policy of inspecting deep water oil rigs, including, of course, the Deepwater Horizon. Worse, the agency has doctored up it’s records to avoid culpability. It’s revolving door employment with private corporations that it is supposed to be monitoring and investigating is widespread throughout public service. Lord help us all.

    Local NGO’s, like our own Kittitas Reclamation District, may be the answer. They are answerable to the people they serve but there must be checks and balances in place for them as well(maybe you’ve read about KRD’s sister agency troubles at KID). We don’t really need the federal yoke around our necks constantly. Let’s use good science and good sense. It’s time that we manage our own resources locally, say thanks and goodbye to an old friend, Reclamation, and do the jobs ourselves, cheaper and better. But like the ascending color coded threat levels, getting rid of an entrenched federal body is much harder than creating one.

    When I left the BOR office I noticed that all of the federal workers there were wearing little tags on their BOR jackets that said “2001, We Will Never Forget”. I asked them if they meant the 2001 Drought or the NYC disaster. They thought that I was kidding.

  7. fishmonger says:

    KRD managing the Yakima Basin?? In “concert” with the seemingly endless number of irrigation districts? Yeah, right. We’d go back to the shootings and dynamiting days of the early 1900′s. Besides, we need a federal bureaucracy to offset the state bureaucracy (DOE). Throw in Fish and Wildlife and the Yakama Nation/BPA and we have achieved equilibrium…lol. But, these agencies are a necessary evil; without their “interference” farmers, ranchers, homeowners, gravel companies, mining companies and others would have completely ruined this resource by now. Fundamentally, Americans aren’t really adept at sharing with others.

  8. Jeremy says:

    Maybe the state should have been actually doing their job and kept a closer eye on the quality of water in the lower valley. Instead they have wasted time and loads of money stopping development in Kittitas County.

    Really if we look at just the facts there are no wells drying up due to development. Exempt wells on average use 100 gallons per day per person, on a septic system 80-90 percent of this goes back into recharging the groundwater system. The Yakima river has not been shown to be impacted by exempt well use in the past or now. No senior water right holder in Yakima has filed or proven any impairment due to exempt well use. And most of the new wells in the last 5-7 years are not used year round, just part time.

    But when the state adds in the politics the whole issue gets cloudy. DOE could have done a study to see if any impacts actually exist, or explored solutions that many in the public have put forth. Instead they have held on to stopping all development and it obviously hasnt solved anything, just ongoing damage to our countys economy.

  9. whatatrip says:

    It is the kind of thinking that Jeremy uses that brought the country to the edge of financial collapse. This kind of thinking that created the housing bubble. This kind of thinking that created derivatives and the financial crisis. This kind of thinking that resulted in the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

    If Jeremy’s logic were allowed to prevail, the current moratorium “crisis” would be a picnic compared to what will result if exempt wells continue to be drilled without mitigation.

    The political groups clouding the issue are the BOCC, developers and “some” well drillers. Money has been set aside for studying the upper county ground water. The BOCC have requested that that money be used for buying water rights for the water bank. They are effectively admitting that the study will confirm what is already known, that ground water taken by exempt wells does impact stream flows and is taking water that has already been allocated to others.

    It is true that recharge is high from septic systems but only when there is snow and rain. Septic systems also depend upon evaporation. This is particularly true for the mounded systems which are becoming increasingly required because of the high density of rural development. The County can’t afford to have all these septic systems “recharging” the ground water with what will be increasing numbers of failed septic systems.

    The big item with exempt well use is for watering and there is no recharge from lawn watering.

  10. Jeremy says:

    That all sounds very interesting but focus on our issue here in this county. Bringing politics into this has already made it a mess.

    If these impacts were already happening then where is the proof? Why hasent the state or these anti-development groups shown one piece of evidence, probably because they cant.

    The state claims that they do not have enough information about the area even though many studies have been done. Streams have mesurement tools to monitor water levels. There are steps to proving impairment spelled out very clearly by the state, but nobody has filed the paperwork. You might think that if this was a real issue that evidence of it would show up somewhere.

    Its like a court case, you need to have facts. Hearsay dosent hold water.

  11. Clem says:

    The BOCC and their friends have gone after the DOE like its only the City of Roslyn, DOE and Aqua Permanante that are responsible for the moratorium. In watching the two meetings and everything I have read in the paper not once have I heard them mention anything about the Yakama Nation and protecting the quality of water in the river. If I understand their position which has possibly changed they see no problem with unmitigated water withdrawls and the Yakama Nation will have to prove through fish kills that the withdrawls are harmful to water quality. The Yakama Nation only has to point out the massive fish kill in the Klamath River in 2002 that resulted from too much water being given to agriculture.

    Yesterdays article in the Daily Record which updated the situation mentioned that Commissioner Jewell is going to meet with the Yakama Nation. This is from the article “Jewell said he will visit this week with Yakama Nation and Roza Irrigation District officials on a proposed Domestic Water Reserve Program, or DWRP, that could be implemented to offset water taken from the aquifer by wells in Upper County.”

    The DWRP would replace mitigating wells apparently. I just wonder how in an extremely water short year where water is curtailed in say July how the county is going to go around at the last minute and buy water rights? You would have to enter into a long term agreement with either one of the irrigation districts or a handful of farms that would go dry in the summer. Who is going to pay for the DWRP? With mitigation the developers would pay but with DWRP the County would have to pay probably through a reserve fund. I guess if I was the Yakama Nation or one of the senior water districts I would want to see where the water was coming from. I guess its a little bit of an “end around” for the County but I dont see the Yakama Nation agreeing to something less than they already have.

  12. CleElum1 says:

    kinda reminds me of the old joke: “only a white man would believes he could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom and have a longer blanket”

  13. Clem says:

    I just wasted a little more time looking into the Domestic Water Reserve Program that the Commissioners have developed and proposed to the County. I couldnt find the original document that went to the Department of Ecology but I did find the responses from the Roza Irrigation District, Kittitas Reclamation District, and the Center for Environmental Law and Policy. There were a couple of questions that stood out and the first was where will the water come from? It was pretty clear after reading the response from the Kittitas Reclamation District that none of their water would be available and the Roza District did not offer any water. That would leave water users that do not rely on irrigation districts for their water such as American Forest Resources. One of the things Mr. Jewell might be looking for when he talks to the Roza Irrigation District and the Yakama Nation is a source for the water not just their blessing. I am not sure his meeting will be real productive though when he cant even get the support of the local water district. I dont think its going to be any better in Toppenish and Sunnyside. I think he will have a long drive back to Eburg.

    http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/ywtwg/images/pdfs/04062010

    http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/ywtwg/images/pdfs/04062010

    http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/ywtwg/images/pdfs/04052010

  14. whatatrip says:

    I agree. The BOCC is just wasting more our our tax money both at the local level and the state level. It is becoming clear that the minds our our three commissioners are thick as bricks. It is also clear to me that DOE is taking the steps towards an ouside party because the BOCC is not capable of facing reality. The BOCC needs a third party to tell them, along with other involved in the water issue, namely senior water users like farmers and the Yakama Nation to tell the BOCC, face to face, that the water the BOCC wants to steal is coming from them and they are not going to let it happen.

    I can’t believe how much patience DOE is displaying with the BOCC. The DOE are the real heros on this one. It is the kind of patience a parent needs to have when dealing with two year olds. But the BOCC are not two years old and the DOE should not have to put up with the antics of the BOCC.

    The BOCC ask why is Kittitas County being picked on. DUH. No county with a current population of less than 40k, let alone one with a fully allocated watershed, has a land use policy that would allow upwards of three quarters of a million people settle in the rural areas. How brain dead do you have to be to ask such a question? Do you have to be 90% brain dead or 95% brain dead.

    The DWRP is another money wasting stalling tactic that hurts all but a very few developers who, by the way, have water rights. You are right, the obvious question is during a dry year is where is the County going to get the rigths to cover all the domestic wells in the County. The obvious answer is in the current requirements of the moratorium. Water rights will have to secured for all future domestic wells. Then, then the County can lease to farmers the water rights they don’t need during any particular year. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    If we had a land use policy that took into account our land resources, water resources, wind resources, farm, forest and mineral and managed then in a way that protected the quality and quantity, we would not be in this situation.

    Instead, in times of increasing need for regulation, our BOCC wants no part of regulation. My God BOCC, step up to the place and get the job done. You are worse than the guy who sits around comlaining that he doesn’t have any money but won’t go out and get a job. What a waste of everyone’s time and money.

  15. lordoflys says:

    Why is Ken Salazar running Interior? I wouldn’t even have him replace the local commissioners. But to your point, fish, better the feds than local irrigation entities. That much I agree with.

    If only our BOCC were progressive enough to promote common sense with the desire to get rich. Preserve and promote our beautiful Central Washington environment with balanced and purposeful development. Recent actions by the DOE were easy to anticipate to anyone not blinded by open range ideology. Bolstered by DOE’s move, we may soon see efforts by local organizations downstream to expand the moratorium…ironically, by organizations of the same political persuasion.

    Clem, I agree with your statement below regarding Act II of this local comedy of errors of ours. Commissioner Jewell looking for a “common purpose” with the Yakama’s and other lower valley water users. The gods first drive mad those who they intend to destroy.

  16. countrygirl11 says:

    I wonder if our BOCC read these blogs on the water issue. The answer has been provided. lord said it all; COMMON SENSE, forward thinking and middle ground. We can no longer separate water and land use. We have an over allocated basin. The water issue has been a known factor for 30 years or more. The BOCC has completely ignored the issue in it’s land use planning. The money our county has spent on lawyers fighting good land use should have been spent acquiring senior water rights (rights that would have been alot less expensive even 20 years ago)to promote growth.
    whatatrip pointed out the kind of thinking that privails and where it has gotten us. While all of this, to some extent, is monday morning quarterbacking, I ask: What harm could a change in thinking hurt? It is time to take a new direction BOCC and stop wasting tax payer dollars.

  17. Jeremy says:

    Most of all your comments are just about politics, no facts that address the issue. The major problem with this issue is that everyone that is pro-mortorium is politically motivated, when solutions are brought up all that they can do is critize. Not one idea has been presented by the pro-mortoriums, seems like they are content with no building.

  18. countrygirl11 says:

    No one likes being told what to do or how to do it. Adults learn there is a reason our parents told us not to touch the top rack in the oven – you know the orange one. What we had in Kittitas County were government officials ignoring and allowing abuse of the law. Growth and development can continue but wells need to be metered and mitigated. Development will have to bear the cost.
    What is your vision for this county? If we want to continue as an ag and recreational driven economy with only residential growth, taxes will have to go up. I say limit residential growth, do much more with solar and wind and bring in some industry that supports the solar and wind.
    I realize as a well driller that idea is diametrically opposed to your business model.
    Jen-Weld was the only forward looking industry in the county. They knew the collapse was coming and they then talked our BOCC into letting them take their 28 million set aside for infracture at Suncadia and WALK AWAY, leaving 6 million in letters of credit that can only be accessed if Suncadia is found in default. NOW we tax payers have to spend more money on out of state, high priced attorneys because NO ONE in Washington State has ever tried to access a standing letter of credit on a defaulted company.
    That is one example of the track record of our BOCC. It shows they are only good at figuring ways to circumvent the rules. The state will have to set the rules and oversee what the county does in regards to water. Politics play a roll in all aspects of our lives, like death and taxes, it is not about red or blue it is about common sense and good planning.

  19. whatatrip says:

    I proposed a solution a long time ago and it has been implemented. Mitigation of exempt wells with a water right IS a solution, it is a fair solution, it is the right thing to do for all conconered and it does not prevent building or well drilling. It is plain, simple, easily implemented and it doesn’t require a lot of politics.

    BTW, no one is more politically motivated than The BOCC and Jeremy. All Jeremy wants to do is drill at the expense of others and the BOCC are just jerking everyone around.

  20. Jeremy says:

    Both of you summed up your side of the issue very well, which is no residential growth or county rights. Other than that all you have is the constant attacks on our commissioners and others who have pointed out the damage that this DOE moratorium has inflicted.

    I think people deserve to have facts and science presented to them. So far the DOE and its handful of supporters have not done this.
    Once you get past all of the anti-development politics people still need water. The exempt well rule has been in place since the 40′s and it is very clear on domestic water. Until real impairment, not potential, is demonstrated this moratorium is just a dishonest way to stop development.

  21. whatatrip says:

    I have no problem with residential growth or county rights as long as urban growth in in the cities, rural growth is in the rural areas and the county lives within its rights and doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others. Our BOCC has infringed upon the rights of existing exempt well owners and senior water rights holders by not protecting the their rights. The law says the county has the responsibility to protect the quality and quantity of water in the county. The BOCC has failed miserably.

    The DOE has not inflected any damage. Any damage done has been done by the BOCC and those who support their unsustainable policies. Their mindset gave us the financial collapse that is largely responsible for the lack of growth in Kittitas County. Current and future water users are very lucky the BOCC was stopped before they caused damage that was beyond repair.

    We have the facts and the science. You just choose to ignore them. I don’t have to prove that any one coffee drinker depleted the coffee pot to prove impairment the coffee supply. If the rule says that when the pot is below reserve level, no one can draw from the pot who doesn’t have senority or a right to draw from the pot, then they can’t draw from the pot. The Yakima water basis is one big pot of coffee and if you don’t have senority, you don’t drink the coffee when the pot is low. With water, you need a water right to use the water.

    The exempt well law was a good one as long as some idiot or idiots didn’t come along and abuse the law. It was meant for sparsely populated rural uses of water where the use would be minimal. But in Kittitas County, we had too many greedy idiots, including the BOCC, that abused and ruined the use of the exempt well law. It only takes one bad apple to ruin it for everyone and we have at least 3 bad apples that have ruined the use of exempt wells.

    Jeremy, you have no one to blame but yourself and those you support on this issue. A good business owner would see the writing on the wall, support it, move on and try to be the best well driller that he can be. A poor businessman would sit around and witch about it and blame everyone else for their woes. The state gives business as much “welfare” as the tax payers can affort to give them but free water is no longer something taxpayers can afford to give away.

  22. Jeremy says:

    Actually the state rule says that if you claim impairment you have to prove it, not use generalizations. They also list the steps that you have to go through in order to prove the impairment. So really the question remains, where is your proof? It should be very simple for you to show just one water right that is being impaired upon.

    If there was impairment going on we wouldn’t need any chicken little groups making up the facts as they go along. Senior water right holders would be filing paperwork left and right, since most of them depend on their water they watch it very closely. But still today no one has filed any impairment paperwork.

  23. countrygirl11 says:

    That is one part of the law.
    The Koran says a man can have as many wives as he wants, the REST of the rule says but only if he can treat each one of them EQUALLY.
    The rest of the law states if not enough is KNOWN about a basin the DOE can move to close the basin until enough is known in order to protect senior water rights and in stream flows. While there have been lots of studies – all 20 years or more old – the Upper County, the head waters for the whole damn basin, has not been well (no pun intended) studied.
    I have no problem with growth. That would be well planned, stable growth. Not the get rich quick ponzi scheme purpetrated in the giddy hey-day years before the housing market imploded. A market that the forward looking company mentioned earlier know was coming.
    This is about abuse of the law. Tell me as a well driller you had no clue the daisy chain of LLCs were created by a hand full of developers to circumvent the exempt well law.
    I am not against development or making lots of money. Just do it honestly, ethicallt and within the intent and spirit of the law.

  24. Jeremy says:

    You shouldn’t lump all exempt wells together. Not all exempt well are used for developments, most in fact are just for single home use. Class B wells are used for more than 2 hook-ups. They are all metered, tested, and checked upon. DOE has access to all of this information, static levels, pump tests, draw down, etc. The same information that they look at in studies.

    If the state is hiding behind lack of information then why all of a sudden, and why here. Look at the DOEs website and you can see that Kittitas County is average for wells drilled throughout the state. It is there job to keep up doing studies and having the information, that is one of the reasons they were created. Why should our county pay for a department not doing their job and not keeping up current information.

  25. countrygirl11 says:

    Guess you did not read yesterdays’ front page of the Daily Record. The water concerns are not new in the Yakima basin. Kittitas is not alone.
    It has been said before, a handful of greedy developers started the ball rolling, by 2005 more and more individual 20-80 acre parcels were sold as sure fire real estate investments. LLCs were created and rezones, 3 acre lots and cluster plat apps flooded the CDS office. ALL counting on a permit exempt well. The law never intended for an 80+ acre farm to end up with 26 individual wells for 26 – 3 acre lots, or 56+ lots clustered to preserve open space. ALL with their own septic systems – goes to water quality issues. Not in rural lands. This kind of development is suppose to occur close to urban growth areas.
    Only now are many 3 acre lot owners beginning to see they were sold a bill of bad goods. State law also says availablity and quality need to be known before a building permit is issued. Our county is only NOW going to enforce that law. All the lawyers and surveyors who made scads of money on all the rezones and plats will be sucking up to the only developers who have senior water rights. The lots in rural lands where we all know water is scarce are out of luck.
    We all know the wells in upper county tend to be low producing and finding it on a 3 acre lot is even harder than on a 10 or more acre parcel. My neighbor’s well dried up right after that little 3.5 quake early last month. Tried going deeper, got zip. Tried a new spot, dry hole.
    No one was interested in educating the buyer.

  26. Clem says:

    Why not be pro-moratorium. Almost everyone who lives in the upper county should be pro-moratorium including everyone in Suncadia, Cle Elum, Roslyn, and South Cle Elum plus everyone who owns a home with a well that plans on selling their property someday. We have a glut of homes for sale or forclosed in the Upper County. It doesnt even make any sense to start more developments. No developer in his right mind is going to plat out and carve more roads into the hillsides around here. There are probably a handful of people with property that plan on building their dream home that have gotten caught in the moratorium but thats about it.

    For the majority of Upper County residents the over development and speculation has led to a steep decline in home prices with no recovery on the horizon. We may in fact see home prices decline for two more years. Jeremy, If you lived in the Upper County how would you like to try to sell your home right now? A buyer right now has any number of homes to pick from that are probably below what it would cost to build with a well. The fact that we have hundred of building lots with available water and little construction going on should tell you something about the economy. For the land developers, road builders and well drillers the moratorium isnt the enemy but its the economy and to a lesser extent Suncadia and the hundred if not thousands of lots they have-all of which have water.

    I did notice at one of the water meetings last summer two developers did complain about Suncadia and the fact they arent being forced to curtail water use. Suncadia bought water. That is what is so hard for everyone who is against the moratorium to understand. Water isnt free anymore. In Cle Elum I pay $32.44 for water per month. In Suncadia its higher. I think its around $40.00. Everyone needs to just go buy the mitigated water and figure that into the building cost and quit complaining about what was “free” once.

  27. lordoflys says:

    First off, we all know that Jeremy has more of a prurient interest in the moratorium issue than we do. I welcome his ÿang to offset some of the ÿin written here. But I doubt if anyone here is really pro-moratorium, at least they shouldn’t be. And water is Central Washington’s favorite object of litigation. It makes some people famous, like Mr. Aquavella, recently of the Tri-Cities. I tried to Facebook him some time ago but you know how those celebrities are…

    While we are immersed in our own water woes, we are not the only ones living in the West with major water problems. In fact, our problems look puny to some of the issues out there, even in our own State. Kudos to Countrygirl for pointing out some of the issues involved with rezones and their need for exempt wells. The mere ability to somehow lock-in water thru mitigation or deception is being very carefully researched by more than a few people inside the business.

    So here’s a rundown of other people’s problems. Maybe this will cheer some of us up, maybe not.

    Yakima County – Nitrite contamination of groundwater. Widespread.

    Moses Lake – Trichloroethelyn Superfund Site. Need I say more?

    Everywhere else in the Columbia Plateau area – running out of ice age supplied water trapped in rock. Rising nitrite contamination.

    Western Washington – too much water, toxic blue green algae blooms

    The rest of the west – With water resources already stretched to their limits it is a challenge to sustain present levels of development (population) in much of the western United States. The Colorado River System is expected to shrink dramatically over the next 50 years, as is the Columbia River System. It is then (50 years from today) that residents along the Yakima River and other areas will need to decide whether to continue supporting anadramous fish or hydroelectric power, not both. Throw irrigation vs fish out there as well. There will be no common ground unless new reservoirs are built soon. And even this may not be enough. But we are the lucky ones. Residents of many Western States will have to ADJUST population. Frankly, there will not be enough water to sustain present populations let alone expected human population growth. This was the premise of the first Water War thread. The ramifications are simple. There will be a mass migration of people to where water exists, putting tremendous additional pressure on local water resources. A Californication of States such as Oregon and Washington will occur(just wanted to throw in a little perspective). I hope some of us are around to see the finger-pointing that will be going on then(!).

  28. lordoflys says:

    Clem, a word on the Water Right Transfer Program. To me, I can understand the failed Reecer Creek Golf Course giving up it’s 50 acre sr. water rights for $$. It will be interesting to see how much one ERU costs initially. One ERU (equivalent residential unit, or 350 gallons of water per day) looks to be how Ecology wants this cut up into, like so many sugar cookies. Applicants go thru a screening process that would keep water speculators like me from buying them up and sitting on them until they’re worth more than the land they originally were subscribed to.

    What is disturbing to me is the DR article itself. In it, Ecology gives the impression that even though lower Kittitas County exempt wells do not require this kind of mitigation, buying these old rights gives the homeowner “the security of coverage” and “those people relying on exempt wells WITHIN THE THREE COUNTY YAKIMA BASIN PUT THEMSELVES AT RISK”, presumably by not buying water rights. Hell, the Water Wars may begin earlier than I first thought. This sounds like a not-so-veiled threat. Well, when the moratorium is moved into lower Kittitas Valley, and when current wells (like mine) are threatened things will heat up a bit around here. Don’t you get the same impression?

  29. Clem says:

    It will cost $10,000 to buy peace of mind in the lower county with the new water bank being set up. Since mitigation isnt required in the lower county I wonder how many would be interested in buying into the program. It does give us an idea where DOE is headed with regard to the whole Yakama Basin. The article that mentioned the cost of water is in todays Yakima paper.

    Since its calculated on 325 gallons per day I went back and looked at how much people had requested in the Upper County. Most of the requests are much higher than that. I have yet to see a price for water from Suncadia but if they charge like SC Aggregate it could get pretty expensive. At any rate it looks like the 166 acre feet of water would be enough for about 400 homes. At the present growth rate that would last for quite a few years.

    I cant see how the State can do much to curtail water use for anyone with the a well the exception might be in a drought year where outdoor watering is prohibited. However if you mitigated you could water some but you would still have to keep on top of your water usage.

    I still would like to hear more on the Upper County program and whether people are finally able to build. That still isnt very clear. The requests for water were higher than what is available. Our friends up in Roslyn wanted 400 acre feet for two different developments. That might be in fact a good example of a developer who has been impacted by the moratorium. I happen to think that slowing down might even be good for his company as so many others havent been able to sell a thing.

  30. whatatrip says:

    I wonder if Reecer Creek Golf kept any water for its land. If they did not, then it is not worth much. This should be a concern. For much of the land that has water rights, that is where the value of the land lies, in its ability to grow crops. The last thing we would want to happen is to replace farm land with houses. If land is farm land, there should be a law that protects the lands right to water until such a time as that land can’t produce any longer. There has been some marginal land that has water rights and there is a lot of land where water for agriculture is being “wasted”. The fact that the ground water static level rises in the Yakima Valley during the dry summer and the increased pollution of ground water with nitrate fertilizers is testimony to the amount of irrigation water that is getting into the ground water.
    DOE is wise to warn exempt well users about future restrictions on unmitigated ground water use. It is not only the Yakama’s and the irrigators who could force curtailed used, it is also cities like Yakima, Ellensburg, Cle Elum and Roslyn who also have senior water rights.
    What I found most important about the DR article is that ground water withdrawal can be mitigated with surface water rights. If there were no connection between ground water and surface water as some like to believe, then it would not be possible to mitigate ground water withdrawal with surface water.
    The goal should have been or should be to minimize rural growth to the point where ground water withdrawals from exempt wells is not great enough to be worth going after. But when virtually unlimited growth can occur in rural areas, then it is only a matter of when exempt well use is curtailed. It is far better to plan for “potential” certainty rather that to wait until the disastrous happens.
    The 325 gallons per day is for domestic use only. It does not include water for watering a lawn. At 325 gallons/day, 365 days a year, yearly consumption is about .4 acre feet of water. Watering ½ an acre of lawn through the season used about 1 acre foot of water. So if all new homes wanted to water ½ acre of land in addition to domestic use, that 166 acre feet is good for less than 120 homes.
    Clem, where did you get information on how much and who is requesting water rights from Suncadia?

  31. whatatrip says:

    Lordoflys, I posted the following in the “Drought of 1020” thread. From what I can gather, on average, we have only been getting enough water to fill our reservoirs to 75% of capacity. What is your take on the value of more storage capacity if the following is true?
    The Daily Record had an article on the front page last Thursday talking about water. In it was the statement ““the Yakima basin reservoir system is lagging behind at only 64 percent of capacity, which is 86 percent of average.” …If we are at 64% of total capacity, then we now have 640,000 acre feet of water in storage. If we had 100% then we would have 1 million acre feet. Since 640,000 acre feet of water is 86% of normal, then in a normal year, we would have 744,186 acre feet of water in storage since 86% of 744,186 is 640,000.

    With that in mind, what good would more storage capacity do us? We already have more than enough storage capacity for more than average rain fall in the Yakima Basin.

    If we are talking about using water out of the Columbia River system and “saving” water in the Yakima Basin for a “rainy day”-not, then how would we get that water in light of what clarifier has posted. Clarifier has stated that those in the Odessa aquifer area haven’t been able to get water out of the Columbia even with a right to it.

    I must be missing some information if more capacity is a solution because it doesn’t look like there is enough water to store.

  32. Clem says:

    http://www.ecy.wa.gov/PROGRAMS/wr/cwp/images/pdf/wtr_exch_re

    It seems to be a “hidden” link now. Our friends up in Roslyn have requested 400 acre feet of water. It might be for Easton Ridge or Roslyn Ridge.

  33. countrygirl11 says:

    I feel the EXISTING property owners should have first dibs on senior water rights exchanges. If the article about those who don’t purchase mitigation water is meant to scare long time property owners who 20 years ago drilled their well, it’s like I said only the lawyers are going to come out ahead. As all of this unfolds it’s easy to see the roll one well known county attorney has played.
    I said it before and I’ll say it again – the real estate scam in Kittitas County is coming home to roost. There are way less for sale signs in Yakima neighborhoods.

  34. lordoflys says:

    Now that’s a great question, and you’re somewhat right. First of all, Black Rock showed promise and I’m for it. Despite some ecological challenges, Black Rock can ensure that all current water subscribers, including KRD, would get 100% of their water yearly. Plus the added bonus of helping salmon restoration in the Basin. Water for this project would be pulled during the height of spring melt and stored until needed. That is the difference between the Odessa folks who have no storage but simply want to divert water when needed, which is also when fish (and others) need it as well.

    Very importantly, “normal” capacity does NOT mean “sufficient” capacity for water needs in this basin. As of today, we are at 79% of capacity, or 841,666 acre feet…and the total capacity is, as you pointed out, just over 1 million af. I predict that we will meet full capacity at most, if not all reservoirs this year, especially with all this wet weather.. and this amount (1 mil af) is NOT SUFFICIENT for seasonal irrigation, power generation, and municipal requirements. No. And we could never drain the reservoirs anyway, no matter how bad the drought. Besides their usefulness as reservoirs these lakes are home to fish and wildlife.

    Now there are other advantages to storage besides irrigation. Remember the big January flood? That could have been prevented if Reclamation had a place to park the water. A nice shiny, new reservoir could be very useful as a flood control device.

    In the near future, the UDUB meteorologists tell us that precipitation will continue to fall in the Cascades but as rain, not snowfall. Current mountain snowfall, which some people like to call our 6th reservoir, will be in decline very soon (some say it is happening right now). We need a place to park this water for various reasons, but primarily we need new storage to maintain our current level of agriculture. Flood control and cute summer houses for our friends West of the Cascades are just an added bonus.

  35. whatatrip says:

    Sounds like more poor planning in the past. If the Odessa people have the right to the water but no storage, how could that have happened? Sounds like our BOCC must have been involved. Who has a claim to all the water behind Grand Coulee and wouldn’t that be where it would be stored? There certainly is a lot of water that flows down the Columbia River and it is hard to imagine that it could be over allocated when compared to the Yakima basin. If there is enough water in the Columbia to fill Black Rock, then there is enough to satisfy the Odessa problem.
    My understanding of additional capacity in the Yakima Basin is that we already have more capacity than we have water. Would an increased Bumping Lake ever get filled up? Back in the 60’s we made many trips to Lake Kachees and never, ever saw it as low as it has been in recent years. It used to go down but nothing like now. We used to travel across Snoqualmie pass and Kechellus reservoir filled up every year to the point of over flow. I can’t remember seeing water go over Kechellus dam in the past 10 years but then I avoid travelling to “the other side”. Again, the data suggests that our current reservoirs in the Yakima Basin, on average, only fill to 75% of capacity so if we doubled capacity, then we would only fill them to 37.5% of capacity during all but the most exceptionally wet year. Now the definition of capacity could be something different than what I understand it to be. I understand it to be the total volume minus some minimal level.
    We would have needed a new reservoir in the Teanaway to prevent some of the flooding and we all know that is not going to fly.
    Here is a source I have been looking at: http://www.yakimacounty.us/ybwra/Watershed/Chapter%202%20(Existing%20Conditions).pdf
    Table 2-2 shows that non-proratable entitlement sits at 1.2 million AF, pro-ratable entitlement sits at 1.27 million AF for a total of almost 2.5 million AF. These are water users above the Parker Gage.
    Table 2-4 shows estimated ground water usage in 2000. Agriculture used 530,000 AF, public water systems used 56,000 AF and individual household wells used 42,000 AF. I am surprised how much water is being used by individual wells compared to public wells.

  36. lordoflys says:

    Naturally. The Roslyn area exchange for 400 af is being sold by (at least thats how it is listed on the document) a real estate attorney, Traci Shallbetter and in turn is being subscribed (sold) to, at least from my point of view, to mostly her own clients. No surprise there.
    And Atty. Lathrop is listed as “President” of the company owning the defunct Reecer Creek golf course, now selling their water rights. The water issue has prompted our own version of ambulance chasers. Frankly, its a wide open field and those with real estate better scramble for “inventory”.

  37. tnway says:

    A special report on water May 22nd 2010 From The Economist print edition. Finite, vital, much wanted, little understood, water looks unmanageable. But it needn’t be, argues John Grimond

    Basically a world view on water issues… A long read but interesting.

    pdf download: http://www.economist.com/members/survey_paybarrier.cfm?issue

  38. lordoflys says:

    tnway…thanks for sharing. Really a great report on water. A couple of notes on this. One point they make is that the only water truly lost in a hydrologic system is due to evapo-transpiration…water lost into the atmosphere…and a technology that measures field evapo-transpiration has been invented at the U of Idaho using satellites. A farmer theoretically can find out how much water is ‘wasted’ on his land by making a call on his cellphone. First I’d heard of this.

    The second point is on water wars. The article reiterates that aquifers are falling, glaciers vanishing, and reservoirs are drying up globally at an alarming rate. At the same time demand is up as the population rises from 2.5 billion people 60 years ago to an estimated 9 billion 50 years from today. The six-day war in the Middle East was caused, in part, by Jordan’s proposal to divert the Jordan River, restricting flow to Israel. In the Western USA, the same situation existed on a smaller scale. In 1935 Arizona called out it’s National Guard to guard it’s borders with California to protest diversions of the Colorado River. Much closer to home, in 1905 a desparate Washington Irrigation Company dynamited a dam at Lake Cle Elum belonging to a rival company to release water to their thirsty irrigation subscribers downriver.

    The article points out that politicians are reluctant to spend a little money or to change their way of thinking on a resource that so many take for granted. Sound familiar? Could Kittitas County have avoided a well moratorium if politicians would have agreed initially to require water meters on all upper county wells as requested by EPA? The answer depends on who you ask. Are exempt wells that are already in place safe from senior water right subscribers if and when surface water levels in the Yakima Basin begin to decline? There have been some ominous warnings already.

    “If the apocalypse is still a little way off, it is only because the four horsemen and their steeds have stopped to search for a drink” (from the article)

  39. whatatrip says:

    I think Kittitas County could have avoided a moratorium and the requirement of a water right to mitigate future exempt wells. How long this could have been avoided or forestalled really depends upon how well the County would have protected commercial forest and commercial farm lands, how well the County protected the quality and quantity of our water resources.
    Even today the County insists upon allowing commercial farm land to be divided up into 3 acre parcels and to then be clustered so the net density is one dwelling per 1 ½ acre. One of the arguments is that farmers can then sell off some land and stay in business. I am certain a lot of businesses would like to be able to sell the future of farming to housing in order to stay in business. Farming is a business and if a farmer can’t make a living at it, then that person needs to sell to someone who can make a go of it. We can’t allow farmers to sell off the land that make them money and then turn around and say they can’t make a living at it.
    The same goes for commercial forests like in the Teanaway. We can’t allow tree farmers to “harvest” their crop and then turn around and say they can’t make any money harvesting trees because they cut them all down or that the market is down. That land has been producing timber for hundreds and thousands of years and will continue to do so. Tree farms just have to wait longer than hay farmers do before they can harvest their crops.
    I am fairly certain that had the BOCC implemented good land use policies the water issue would be a non issue today and for the foreseeable future. But they and the developers got dumb and greedy and ruined it for everyone else. They had plenty of warning and a lot of it in 2006 when the cluster plats began. What a hoax and shame that whole ordinance was/is. Those involved should be ashamed of themselves.
    As for the exempt wells that are already in place or have been in use before all this came to light, I think it is the responsibility of the BOCC to purchase the water rights to cover the existing wells. It was their policy and their decision to issue the permits. By law they are responsible for the quality and quantity of water and if they have to purchase rights, so be it. If they don’t, there could be a lawsuit down the road. I doubt, however, that those who have irrigation water rights along with an exempt well will be impacted to any noticeable degree because of the connection of ground water to surface water. It should be easy to convert a small fraction of their existing surface water to domestic use if need be. Those who depend upon an exempt well for lawn watering or uses other than domestic might have a much more difficult time.

  40. tnway says:

    I agree w/the assessment regarding the counties ability to have avoided the moratorium. Meters on new wells sounds pretty simple and pretty inexpensive now. Hindsight maybe… If the counties tactics were an attempt to stand up for existing property rights, then I’m thinking they failed as it sounds like my exempt well and property that relies on it is at risk. Even if there hasn’t been current impairment, it’s a logical conclusion that there will be some time in the future. So why not address it earlier rather than later? Development rates and their need for water will decide when impairment will come and the solution at that later date will impact more than just the newly developed parcels. I guess we’ll all have a better understanding of our exposure when the state comes out with new water regs and whether the moratorium resulted in a solution that helps protect both those with junior rights and those with current exempt wells from parcels not yet created or improved. I’m thinking this is a very misunderstood concept by many.

    Ditto that on the GMA compliance issues. I read yesterday where the county is still out on several issues but up to standard on the forest and ag fronts. It’ll be interesting to see how they interpret the long term forest definitions and conditions to change them when AFLC decides they want the major Commercial Forest Land rezone they presented last December. We all know the mills closed. We know AFLC cut the bulk of the mature trees and then some. But we also realize it takes 25 years or better to grow a tree. Seems to me, we won’t know for a long time whether there is a mill or market for these trees when they grow to maturity. Changing the land use now means we’ll never really know. It’s kind of like forecasting the number of exempt wells, specific locations and when they will cause impairment. Tough to do so be conservative in your decision making as these are often irreversible decisions.

    Speaking of the Teanaway, does anyone know why AFLC hasn’t put their irrigation piping to use this year? I know the sky’s provided lots of water but they haven’t even rolled out the piping. Someone (David Bowen ?) mentioned that they were going to put their water right into a water trust. That seems plain wrong if they haven’t perfected their water right. Or at least an offhand way to skirt the system and have the water trust folks perfect the right for them so they save the money and PR headache of dumping the water on the ground. It would be pretty hard to argue the case of not putting water back in to in-stream flow, but if it’s really not their water then why not? Any thoughts?

  41. lordoflys says:

    Bumping Lake is completely full and spilling water while the Naches River begins to approach flood level. The spring melt has not yet begun in earnest (waiting on warmer weather) but a huge amount of water is already entering Cle Elum and the other nearby lakes. We were close to drought levels just a few weeks ago and now conditions are ripening for potential flooding. Again, with additional storage this water could be managed alot more efficiently.

    Reclamation is still concerned with water supply right now but if I were living in those areas that flooded along the river not too long ago I would be watching things very carefully. It is a distant threat but a threat nonetheless.

  42. lordoflys says:

    You would think, with all the hubub surrounding the moratorium, that people would be eagerly awaiting news on the Upper County groundwater study, which theoretically will determine whether groundwater pumping affects the availability of surface water (specifically sr. water rights). Actually, the study HAS NOT started yet. Thats right. Whats more, it may not change a thing anyway. The study was scoped over a year ago by the “technical” experts. That includes just about every organization that has a water interest. The State Legislature set aside money, and then at the last session, redirected it according to a “proviso” (under certain provisions). In the meantime all future extractions must be mitigated as set forth by the DOE. Now things are getting interesting. Is the State of Washington “punishing” Kittitas County for being obstinate and obstructive?

    Ecology has linked the following article on it’s website…Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board – Water needed to extinguish rhetorical fire in Kittitas County – April 16, 2010

    In it, the paper criticizes Kittitas commissioners and other politicians. Bill Hinkle is on a crusade of sorts to fight the DOE at any cost. Now he plans on suing the State. Right. Thanks to Hinkle and others the County has painted itself into a very tight corner. A place where we may never get out of. Why? Because, despite sympathetec rhetoric from other politicians from outside our district, there is absolutely zero support from outside water users, primarily those water subscribers south of Roza. Why would there be? The State is protecting them from us.

    Next on the docket is the recent announcement from KRD that the TWSA has been increased, no surprise there, and that allotments to KRD users have been increased from 1.65 to 1.85 af. The irony here is that this number is usually 2 acre feet in a normal water year. So we are still being allocated “below normal” water levels yet Bumping Lake is at 102% of capacity(!),the Naches River is nearing flood levels, and water storage overall is over 100% of normal. Here is where an enlargement of Rimrock would come in handy. We need it to store more water for irrigation AND manage potential flooding. It’s crazy to short water to farmers when the snowpack is healthy and all the reservoirs are nearly full…and maybe we could get this moratorium monkey off our backs if senior water rights subscribers downriver felt they didn’t need our well water too.

  43. Clem says:

    The first customers for Suncadia’s Water Bank have already been approved and 120 more applications are awaiting approval. The North Kittitas County Tribune in last weeks paper ran the Suncadia Water Bank as their headline story. Suncadia is providing mitigating water for up to 1,000 homes.

    If we were on the westside of the state I think it would be the end of the story. But here in Kittitas County where the BOCC has already tried to weaken the Growth Management Act its probably only the first chapter. Local Republicans may encourage the BOCC to sue the state under “loss of property rights”. The BOCC hasnt been able to find anyone to join them in a law suit at least thats what it looks like. The “Farm Bureau” which would be a typical ally in a “property rights” lawsuit as they were with the GMA is not going to join this fight as it isnt in their interests. The housing market is almost dead and the Building Industry of Washington may not be as excited about “property rights” as the water issue has been solved although at a cost of maybe $10,000 dollars per residence.

    The Washington State Republicans are having their annual convention this weekend in Vancouver. Its another chance for Hinkle and local Republicans to bring the water issue up. At this point I dont think Hinkle and the BOCC really care about the economy as much as they do a perceived “loss of property rights”. If they go down to Vancouver claiming Kittitas County has lost “property rights” and something needs to be done we might see more action against the state.

    Is Paul Jewell still a Republican? He is not listed as an elected official on the Kittitas County Republican web site. It would be nice if we had an independent on the commission so it didnt look like the commissioners were making decisions based on the Kittitas County Republican Party Platform.

  44. countrygirl11 says:

    There are property rights and then there is loss of value. I do not see where property rights have been lost. A permit exempt well can still be drilled in upper county as long as the water is mitigated. The right has not been lost. As to value, if buyers had done their homework and not listened to just the realtors and bankers they might have seen their investment was an at risk investment. The rezoning and daisy chain of LLCs was not new to Kittitas County. It was a developer on the westside that was taken to court over creating supposly separate clusters using exempt wells that lead to the Campbel-Quinn ruling. Permit exempt wells are not a new issue. The value of property nationwide has dropped due to the credit default swap and bad lending practices. Remember the closure, for right now, is only in upper county. I’m sure there is concern it could be widened. The buying frenzy is on hold due to the economy not the closure.

  45. whatatrip says:

    I just read the article in the Tribune. If I did the math right, the cost per acre foot of water for domestic use comes out to about $14,500.00 if you don’t consider the 500 square feet for lawn watering. I also figured that if you a had house that was 1950 square feet, you could water a strip of lawn around your house that was 5 feet wide with the “free” irrigation water included in the $5,700.00 price tag. If you want go to 14 feet wide around your house, it will cost you and extra $1,300. For what I would consider a minimum in the rural area, a strip 30 feet wide around your house will cost you an additional $4,636.00 on top of the $5,700.00 base price…plus taxes and fees. Even at that, 30 feet wide around a house is only 3,250 square feet which is about .075 acres. At $1.50 a square foot for lawn watering, that comes out to $65,340 per acre foot of water.

    You can count on our County Commissioners to make matters much worse.

  46. lordoflys says:

    Finally, a base rate for the sr. water share being sold by Suncadia, who despite being a little too early in the wholesale gentrification of the Upper County, has turned out to be a good neighbor to residents and wannabe residents. By virtue of their sr. water rights, purchased at the time of their land acquisition, they are now acting as a water bank…with the blessing of the EPA. The NTC Tribune reports that Ray and Jane Stanfield have, for the amount of $8,500 plus fees and taxes (which included an electronic water meter for $175 plus associated costs)for a total of a little over $10,000, are the first in line to buy water for their upper county retreat. Basic costs from the Suncadia Water Bank (free checking) are just under that but the Stanfields bought a little extra to irrigate their 3 acre parcel near the Cle Elum airfield. About $1.50 a square foot.

    Thanks to the Tribune for publishing this info. The article also goes on to state that there has been 144 water requests of which 85 have been approved and sent to Ecology. There is no word yet whether Rep. Hinkle or the current Commissioners plan to dig any wells or apply for water rights any time soon in the UC. Maybe when hell freezes over.

    Thanks, whatatrip, for the lead.

  47. countrygirl11 says:

    It sure would be nice if our county government could decide which rules it wants to follow. The simplest way ro ensure property owners are not left high and dry would be to STOP issuing permits to build until the county and DOE get a permantant rule in place. If a land owner mitigates their groundwater withdrawl and proves there is adequate potable water they get a building permit.
    No, our County government continues to pay out hundreds of tax payer dollars for attorneys to argue they have no authority over water. READ the GMA rules and guidelines. A GMA county gets to decide land use based on GMA guidelines but ONLY to the extend and in conjunction with the DOE that those land use decisions PROTECT water quality and quantity.

  48. Clem says:

    http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2010/06/24/water-confli

    We have more than enough water in this county to build all the homes that are on the books which if you have been reading the articles is no more than 120. Everywhere you look in the Upper County you can see vacant homes, for sale signs and foreclosed properties. Why arent the Commissioners out looking for some “cheap” water that doesnt cost $10,000-$14,000 per lot? The “new plan” from the County is that everyone can drill a well but you cant take any water from it. I wonder how far reaching this will be in Olympia. You kind of wonder if people in other areas might decide there are a bunch of “Bozos” running Kittitas County.

    The various water districts and individuals control 450,000 acre feet of water in the County. I am pretty sure we use more water per dollar of agricultural value than any other county. The commissioner have had a hard time getting sympathy from anyone in the State including Benton and Yakima County when we are among the biggest water users in the State. Kittitas County irrigators use about 18% of the total water in the Yakima BR district yet only produce a little more than 3% of the total value. In 2007 Yakima, Benton, and Kittitas County Agriculture total was almost $1.75 billion. Kittitas County was only 60 million.

    If we look at water use another way it takes 1,857 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef which is where most of our water goes. It only takes 84 gallons of water to produce a pound of apples.(National Geographic-April).

    Back to the water-war issue it must seem kind of crazy for some of the outsiders looking in that we cant solve the water problem internally. With 450,000 acre feet of water their shouldnt even be an issue of mitigating water. Suncadia has already offered enough water to last for years. If the BOCC isnt happy with that why dont they just go buy some more?

  49. lordoflys says:

    Clem: Thanks for your analytic input on this subject and others. Unfortunately, my last two postings have been too controversial for the Daily Record to publish…seems odd. You are right on concerning the upper county water situation. Suncadia, a good neighbor to most of us locals, seems to have risen to the occasion by osmosis alone…it just worked out that way.

    The water war(s) is just getting started. It will ultimately affect every resident in the valley, even those who magically get their water thru a municipal hookup. The BOCC and anyone else who think they can maintain the status quo thru political bullying will be the first to find themselves on the outside, waaaay outside concerning this issue.

  50. lordoflys says:

    Whatatrip and Clem have both touched on upper county water costs. Early in June the NKC Tribune reported on the Stanfields who were first in line to purchase senior water rights for their 3 acres near Cle Elum. The cost was around $10000 including legal work and taxes, which guarantees them household water and a little extra for irrigation. This was all done, of course, through Suncadia’s “water bank”.

    The questions I have are: 1. Can this water right be transferred?
    I suppose that if so, the transferee would have to apply thru the DOE just like the other applicants.

    2. Will the cost go up as applicants increase and the supply of tranfers declines?

    3. What then?

    Suncadia continues to be a better neighbor to the local populace than first envisioned. Which reminds me, I’m playing golf there next week.

  51. countrygirl11 says:

    The DOE will hold a public meeting July 28th on the permantant rule at the Walter Strom Middle School. Open house – 5:00-6:15p. Meeting at 6:30p.
    Suncadia’s agreement with the county required them to provide water for the increased development that would likely occur as a result of building the Suncadia Master Planned Resort. It is nice to see it is one agreement Suncadia is not trying to get out of.

  52. lordoflys says:

    The Governor’s meeting last Thursday with the YBHWEP (Arboretum) workgroup and subsequent declaration that she is ready to push for additional water storage is good news. Not that we haven’t heard it, many times before from various politicians. This time, however, she is behind a broad coalition that include such diverse groups as irrigation, fishery, municipal users and federal and local government interests…some of which historically have been at odds.

    Wymer (new) and Bumping Lake (enlargement) were mentioned in the article. Both will create about the same amount of water storage. I’m in favor of both, though that’s probably a stretch. The YBHWEP will probably make their final recommendations to the Governor later this year and, who knows, money might be appropriated in 2011. It will mean more water for everyone and everything in the Valley. Did anyone notice Gov. Gregoire’s quote regarding our County Commissioners? By the way, where HAS Hinkle and the Commissioners been all this time? Playing politics while nothing else gets done. We need to move on past the well issue. Get on the train, boys. If irrigation and fishery interests can work together surely you can set aside politics for awhile and work WITH the State on this project.

    It will be interesting to see whether the out-of-state armchair environmentalists on the East Coast will bombard Ecology with ready-to-mail petitions against any new Yakima Basin project. They will be supported by their de facto comrades-in-arms, Hinkle and the commissioners by virtue of their listlessness for this project and animosity in dealing with Democrats. Strange bedfellows indeed.

  53. Clem says:

    “This is key to us helping Kittitas County. We are trying to tell the county commissioners to help us with this. This is the way to solve the problem,” Gregoire said during a brief interview following the one-hour presentation.

    http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2010/07/01/gregoire-adv

    Heres an older link on Bumping Lake
    http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2009/10/22/bumping-lake

    I think the County Commissioners are still focusing on the water rights as “property rights” and will not let the issue go. They and Hinkle would like to take the State to court but they are looking for partners to help defray court costs. I think they could have gone out and bought water rights along time ago but then it wouldnt make as much sense to complain about their loss of “water rights”.

    Heres a link to another article on Bumping Lake and William O. Douglas which sheds a little light I think on the east coast people who might not want any expansion of Bumping Lake. Its from 1988. At least now we have a Democrat governor who will back the expansion so that makes things a little easier.

    http://www.seattlepi.com/archives/1988/8801210177.asp

  54. lordoflys says:

    Thanks for those links, Clem. I have always admired William O. for what he accomplished and I understand why he would always want to protect what he considered his own private Idaho. I was also surprised to learn that Gov. Dan Evans had the Bumping Lake enlargement on his agenda that far back.

    Im making a pilgrimage to the lake in a few weeks which will include kayaking down the river, if the flows hold up (currently 460 cfs). It will be interesting to see if his old house at Goose Prairie is still there. I’ll let you know.

  55. countrygirl11 says:

    The meeting Wednesday with DOE and the BOCC was interesting in that even after the attorney for DOE outlined the legal responsibilities for Superior Court, DOE and local government regarding water; Mark McClain (who is a lawyer) kept asking about inquiring, or how the county should inquire, if an applicant for a building permit has a legal right to water. According to DOE the county does have a legal responsiblity to determine if there is enough water for a project and does the applicant have a legal right to the water.
    The county has continuously claimed they have legal presedent not to inquire who the owners of various LLCs are. Which is what lead to the abuse of the permit exempt well law and landed us in this mess to start with. Mcclain claims the county needs to know how to get the information ans set policy. I think the county is still looking for ways to get around a water right in the areas of the county not covered by the closure in Upper County.
    I’m not a lawyer but even I could understand the counties responsibility as outlined by the DOE lawyer. The RCW and GMA statute are pretty simple and clear.

  56. Clem says:

    The Yakima Herald ran an article in yesterdays paper July 9 that includes some stuff from Paul Jewell thats kind of interesting regarding their most recent move to fight the moratorium. Heres a link

    http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2010/07/08/kittitas-co-
    Heres some interesting stuff from the article. It also most seems like the county is back tracking although they havent recinded anything.

    McClain said the county’s letter was meant to seek assistance from Ecology on how to deal with requests for approval to build.

    Commissioner Paul Jewell, contacted Thursday, agreed that the policy is still under development and the county wanted input from Ecology.

    “It was a work in progress. If it was interpreted as a hardline political maneuver, it was never intended that way,” Jewell said. “It was us looking at the laws and trying to apply those.”

    Then there is this letter from an attorney sent to the County.

    “An attorney representing home builders and county real estate agents said in a June 30 letter to Bambrick a resumption of building permit activity within the moratorium area would create a liability risk for the development industry and harm consumers if building was halted by a court order.

    “This result will harm consumers, put buyers, builders and real estate agents at legal risk, and is untenable,” according to the letter written by attorney Bill Clarke of Olympia.”

    Remember the timing of the letter-June 14th came two days after the Republican Convention in Vancouver. Was it a result of a brainstorming session and not particularly well thought out? My guess is that the commissioners are hoping that someone with really deep pockets builds a house and is denied water and turns around and sues the State and gets the moratorium overturned. The County’s shotgun strategy is basically to throw everything at the State and hope something sticks.

  57. CleElum1 says:

    “The County’s shotgun strategy is basically to throw everything at the State and hope something sticks.”

    ahahahahahahahaha ….. good one

  58. lordoflys says:

    Among several alternatives for additional storage in the watershed the one most recently discussed (and has since Dan Evans and before) since Black Rock was discarded like an empty Bud Light can is Bumping Lake. The enlargement of Bumping Lake to help alleviate water shortages during irrigation season was fought vociferously by William O. Douglas, the West’s most famous tree-hugger and also a person I’ve long admired. Everyone knows the story so I’ll only mention that his legacy still lives on at his old stomping grounds at Goose Prairie.

    I read the scores of sign-and-mail-in cards addressed to the DOE opposing not only the enlargement of BL but also to any changes in the watershed at all that would displace owls, remove trees, obstruct the view from the W.O. Douglas Wilderness, etc. So I drove up to Bumping Lake last week for a few days to see for myself. I camped out at Bumping Lake Marina, the only private enterprise there. I met Bob, the manager and caretaker who has been at the Lake for the last 4 years. Bob, a very courteous and friendly fellow, is opposed to the enlargement for obvious reasons. It will displace the Marina….by 22 feet. Yes, that is about how high the water will rise if the dam is raised. The Lake itself is surrounded by nearly vertical hills. There will be some old growth that will be affected but many of the trees are damaged or dead due to insects or disease. None of the Wilderness area will be touched.

    Bob says that the project isn’t worthy because it would take 12 years for the reservoir to fill up. He also questions whether the “deep pockets” of the Goose Prairie residents could stymie the project. I did not see much evidence of “deep pockets” at Goose Prairie. Rather the opposite. No living relative of William O lives there anymore and the community looks a little like a depressed Teanaway. No, the negative affects of enlarging Bumping Lake, at least to a amateur like me, when compared to the benefits that will be enjoyed by nearly all the residents living in the Yakima Watershed seem negligible.

    W.O. Douglas was a fine man. His legacy as a conservationist and as a protector of the First Amendment is guaranteed. His private Idaho at Goose Prairie as well as the surrounding wilderness will continue unaffected during and after the enlargement of this much-needed water storage project. Water that is needed for agriculture, fish, and people. I hope it happens. And, the forest service has already picked out a nice flat area, located about 22 feet up the mountain for the Bumping Marina to move to.

  59. Aureliux says:

    Well, raising the level has my vote. Sounds plausible anyway and I sure don’t see any other miracles coming up that are going to do any good.

    Can’t see why levels can’t be raised on a few other lakes in our end of the Upper County World. Just a good foot higher on two of them would provide an awful lot more storage and it wouldn’t be that hard to do, and it would not have that great of an impact on anything.

    But what do I know? Other than Progress is the opposite of Congress?

    :-)

    Oh. I MAY be up fiddling around in a ‘yak next week on Cooper. Perhaps I’ll have some decent pics to share and a story, too. We’ll see.

    Did get up and down and around the north and middle forks of our Teanaway River. Unbelievable how low that got, SO quick, with the Yakima SO high cold and fast. I’m sure it makes sense to someone, I can’t figure it out.

    A.

  60. lordoflys says:

    A. On my Bumping trip I yakked the Naches at 1000cfs..plenty of thrills. Also just did the Thorp river bridge to Wades pond…The portage around the diversion dam wasn’t too bad but the inlet into Wade’s from the river is hazardous…Oh, was that the Teanaway? I thought it was drainage from someone washing their car. Pls post pics of Cooper. Thats on my list and watch out for bears. LOF

  61. lordoflys says:

    It looks as though our first modern major skirmish, the upper County Moratorium, will not die a quick death. DOE, empowered by Kittitas County’s bumbling response to the initial action, is now considering draconian measures to make permanent certain drilling restrictions and possibly expand the present moratorium boundaries to include other areas of Kittitas County and, on the radar, to scrutinize other areas in Eastern Washington outside the Yakima watershed.

    At the onset, Kittitas County Commissioners played a political game of oneupmanship, local GOP state representatives cheering from the sidelines. This turned out to be a catastrophic gameplan, with Kittitas Valley residents suffering the consequences. The DOE has strong support from the agricultural heart of the lower valley as well as the benevolent approval of the State’s Democratic leadership.
    There is a reason for zoning, growth plans, and adhering to them.

    The present crop of inline commissioners should be held accountable and replaced with independent leadership. You are what you eat (and who you vote for).

    The Yakima River Watershed has much larger problems looming, nitrate
    contamination being the worst. Caused by inorganic fertilizer from agriculture, animal manure, and septic systems, nitrate contamination is more of a “downstream” problem and one that Yakima, Benton and other counties are dealing with. This problem has waaaay more of a detrimental affect on aquifers than single residential home well drilling ever was or will be. Expect the DOE to respond to this threat to water with a stick larger than the one we were spanked with.

    The biggest problem of all, however, remains water’s scarcity. Despite a successful irrigation season this year next year’s season could be a different story. Value-added agriculture will ultimately have to replace the potato industry along the Columbia river system (of which we are part of). We are seeing this already with a growing wine industry. Our future as the world’s supplier of cheap french fries and potato chips is limited. And, down the road a ways, water will dictate western demographics. All the arrows point to Oregon and Washington. And this will be the premise of a true water war.

  62. Jeremy says:

    This nitrate issue isnt anything new. Its interesting how the DOE has spent more time and resources on our “potential problem” than looking at the nitrate issue in the lower valley.

    Maybe a 3 person petition is needed to get the ball rolling?

  63. whatatrip says:

    If evidence is needed to prove impairment, why has Roslyn had their water useage cut off just recently because they have junior water rights and not senior water rights? If impairment needs to be proven, why are KRD junior water rights holders regularly cut back on useage to make sure senior water rights holders get their water first?

    No taxpayer money had to be spent had the BOCC done their job right in the first place.

  64. whatatrip says:

    I generally agree with lordoflys assessment. The BOCC blew the water issue like most land use issues they’ve been involved with. Zoning, growth plans and adhering to them is not something the BOCC does well or at all in some cases.

    The nitrate problem will, I think, raise the issue of the amount of water being poured on crops. I live on land that was once a timothy field in the upper Kittitas Valley where the amount of water allocated is just enough to keep the crop watered until harvesting. There are no nitrates in our ground water that I know of and the land grew timothy for decades. I suspect just enough fertilizer was used and the amount of water used was just enough to get a crop. In the lower Yakima Valley irrigation is done so heavily that the ground water table rises in the summer because of so much water being used.

    I don’t know what the solution is to that problem but I suspect you are correct that the solution requires a bigger stick that what was used in Kittitas County. I also suspect there is a lot of “savings” to be had with regard to senior water rights users. They could easily change their watering techniques and sell a small portion of their water rights to accommodate all the exempt wells in Eastern Washington where water is an issue. If every exempt well were covered by a water right just like cities are covered by water rights, then the water issue goes away, done, and solved.

    The nitrate problem brings to mind a potentially larger problem in Kittitas County. That issue is the use of septic tanks on ½ acre and smaller lots being created with the cluster development code. Over and over it has been demonstrated that it really takes about 5 acres to avoid problems like contamination of the ground water from septic systems. Sooner or later a lot of the septic systems being put in will fail and if in close proximity to each other and the water system, the water will be contaminated.

    The “public” septic systems being used in these clusters raise questions also. The affluent from 14 homes into one septic system raises, IMO, the likelihood that the ground water will be contaminated. You can’t “treat” water in a rural setting the way developers are trying to. It is a nightmare waiting to happen.

    Ten years ago I had my gravity fed septic system put in. A few years ago my neighbors had to put in a mound system with an additional 1,000 gallon holding tanks. That makes 2- 1,000 gallon tanks. This is the same type of soil right next door. So that tells me the county is being very cautious. The lots around here are 3 acre lots. These are too small without urban amenities.

  65. Jeremy says:

    Look at the resources and taxpayers money that the state has wasted on doing a permanent rule here. No facts to support it just potentials and lack of evidence, last time I checked the issue here is not a public health disaster.

    The nitrate issue has been around a lot longer that a year and yet no solutions from DOE. Press releases and more agency’s don’t automatically fix anything.

  66. countrygirl11 says:

    Jeremy, find 2 more people, form a non-profit organization and as is your legislative right in the State of Washington, file a petition.
    Don’t forget, the DOE denied the petition and choose to try and work with the BoCC. All the petitioners did was force everyone to look at the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I have brought up the issue of 14 septic systems crammed onto these 20 acre parcels all supposely owned by separate LLCs. T19 R15 Sec9 is a classic example.
    Multiple LLCs but they all lead back to one, Storm King LLC which is solely owned by Sean Northrup. All rezones from F&R 20 to R3 many with cluster plat applications.
    Has anyone ever used one of those water filters you put on the faucet at the kitchen sink? After 3 months what does that filter look like?
    It won’t happened as quickly but in 50 – 100 years the soil around those septic systems is going to be like that filter. Full of pollutants contaminating the ground water.
    Under the RcWs and GMA rules the county is responsible for making sure there is Quanity and protecting Quality of water. By failing to make good land use decisions and failing do do critical areas study the quality of water is in jepardy. This is not chicken little stuff, I know of a well that became contaminated as the 3 acre parcels up hill from the contaminated well became developed and horses, cows and chickens along with septic systems covered the land up hill. The long time residents of the contaminated well had to drill much, much deeper for clean water and the impairment thing you keep harping on? Their lawyer informed them it would be very expensive and the out come a crap shoot. The cost of the new well took a big chunk out of the kids college fund so they tabled the idea of filing an impairment lawsuit. It is the people who are impaired that have to prove the newcomers are responsible, not easy and not cheap. I think it is wise to protect the residents already on their little piece of heaven.

  67. Jeremy says:

    Sorry, I have better things to do than find loopholes in the law and waste taxpayer money like the anti-developments, I actually work for a living.

    Sounds to me like you guys minus Aureliux constantly complain about development. You guys have your exempt well why not let others have theirs and enjoy our county, that’s why most of you moved here in the first place right?

  68. lordoflys says:

    No, I was born here like you, Jeremy. And if I were the governor, I’d give all single-use homeowners an exempt well, take the damn wind turbines off of Hayward Hill (and move them further away from the population) and finally, allow all residents actually living on the river to keep a few trout to eat.

  69. countrygirl11 says:

    But when the loopholes in the law are working for ya you have no complaints. We in America have freedoms unparrelled in other parts of the world. Those freedoms come with responsiblity, I enjoy standing up exposing and abuse of a system. I am not against development, it is a fantasy you have cooked up in your own head. I want good, stable development. Much of what went on in Kittitas County was simply a ponzi scheme cooked up by the real estate, banking and home building industries.
    All our BOCC had to do was stop the LLC shell game and there would have been no closure of the basin.

  70. moderate says:

    Not so sure why we can’t admit that there may be a problem with the amount of development that has occured over the past few years. Obviously it was not sustainable, moritorium or no moritorium. The current recession is more of a problem but it seems that some folks chose to believe that the moritorium is the cause of all our troubles here in Kittitas County. I find it hard to believe that things would be much different here even without the moritorium. Have any of you tried to refinance or get a mortgage recently? Seems to me this is a chance for us all to take a deep breath and really take a look at what is happening in our county and look for some solutions. I’m not sure that either side is entirely right.

  71. Aureliux says:

    Made it up to Lake Cle Elum and Spelyi Beach yesterday. Lake still had some pretty good water backed up, didn’t seem as low as I had expected.

    See in the Yakima Herald this AM a couple more floaters had to get fished out of the Yakima River because it appears they bumped a log jam and rolled over. I came down Hwy 10 yesterday, looked the river over a little bit and you know what? I’m STILL staying off it. Saw a couple big raft floating drift parties bobbing along and things did not look good to me.

    River is too high, there’s too many weirdo log jams out there, and I saw a couple new sweepers part way across the river that I hadn’t seen before.

    Still haven’t made it up to any of the high lakes. Maybe next weekend.

    Happy Saturday!

    A.

  72. lordoflys says:

    It’s been 30 years since the Quackenbush decision allowed, or more precisely, ordered, Reclamation to augment stream flows during off-irrigation seasons to allow salmon and steelhead to reproduce. Up to and during this time farmers and others were at odds with the Yakama Nation, state biologists, and anyone else that they saw threatening their precious water supplies. Besides, most everyone thought that the fish were beyond recovery at that time. 30 years ago only a few hundred fish made it to Prosser where they were trucked to the mountain headwaters, the flow too small at the time for them to swim that far. The sluice gates were closed and all water was being saved until the next irrigation season.

    The myth at the time was that fish and irrigation were diametrically opposed and what was good for one was bad for the other. Water users were extremely hostile towards those trying to save the fish and law enforcement was needed to protect these unpopular people.

    In hindsight we now know that fish recovery and water users in the Yakima Watershed have far more in common than not. And that working together for a common goal, in this case the availability of clean water, often brings those once opposed…thinking alike. There were those at the time that spread false information and irresponsible speculation on the dangers and utter calamity of allowing “those damn Indians” to steal their water. Yakima river salmon migration was an anachronism in the 20th century, right? Utter nonsense, of course, but people get awful testy when it comes to the one thing we cannot live without…water. And yes, I’m happy that the federal government is managing water flow. I questioned this arrangement in a prior comment but really, would you want it any other way? Hats off
    to Reclamation and the water districts for a job well done. Don’t be offended by my occasional criticism.

    As a result of the Quackenbush decision the “flip-flop” was born. An annual ritual that helps salmon reproduce and creates some exciting kayaking on the Naches River. Someday Yakima or Kittitas County will sponsor “Flip-Flop Days” or something of the sort, celebrating what we can do when opposite camps set aside their fear and loathing and work together on a common goal. It’s really amazing what can be done.

    Finally, I (and many others) predict a cold winter with heavy snowfall this winter which bodes well for a solid irrigation season next spring. Unfortunately, it will put water storage projects on hold a little longer, as budgets are still tighter than a ….well, you know.

  73. lordoflys says:

    It’s always seems ominous to me when Reclamation carries over so much water over the winter in the reservoirs. And that is what is happening right now at our county’s 3 storage lakes. Ominous because Reclamation does a balancing act between carrying over enough water for next irrigation season and being able to store water during heavy runoff to mitigate flooding downriver. I live on the river and I’m still cleaning up after the last flood. But I’m luckier than those people who had water enter their homes closer to Eburg. So what are Reclamation’s priorities (I’ve sent an email down to the BOR fortress in Yakima asking them this)?

    Inflow into Lake Cle Elum at present is way above normal due to all the rain and experts predict a serious winter ahead with above normal snowfall. One good chinook could send flood levels soaring and if the lakes are full the water heads downriver. It was less than one year ago when a state of emergency was declared for Kittitas County. The mighty Yak crested at 39 feet at Horlick, just up from my place, which is 10 feet over flood level. If we didn’t have so much dry weather at the time the flood could have been much worse. I don’t like to think about it but in times of uncertainty over weather changes a worst case scenario seems almost apocalyptic.

    I trust Reclamation to make sound decisions. They had better, because there are people and property at stake here. And there is only so much they can do. But if October water has already filled the reservoirs there will be no room for the massive runoff we can expect early next year. I hate to sow fear when there is already an abundance of it. But with a little luck a lot could go the right way for us this winter.

    Note to A. I kayaked between Swauk Creek and Thorp a few days ago. Water was almost too shallow in some wide places. Caught and released 4 or 5 smallish trout. Spotted one spent king carcass near the trout hotel. Started late and almost froze after the sun disappeared from the river. Scenery was spectacular. New England has nothing over us in the fall.

  74. lordoflys says:

    There are many variables that combine to cause flooding. I mentioned the La Nina snowfall. Thats one. Reduced holding capacity at the reservoirs (particularly Lake Cle Elum). Two. In fact, at the time of this post the reservoir levels are at 152.6% of average. And, inflow water is currently at 168% of average. Do the math. The kicker, however, is the appearance of a mid or late season Chinook. A warm wind following severe snowfall is always a recipe for disaster. In fact, almost exactly 100 years ago a Chinook following a severe storm at Stevens Pass killed nearly 100 people in American’s worst avalanche disaster.

    A Chinook can fill up the reservoirs quickly. Once that happens Reclamation has no choice but to open the gates fully to relieve pressure on the dam(n) gates. The DR ran a nice article on winter preparation. Not much you can do for flooding once it happens. Maybe some of the surplus city occupancy tax can be used to buy sandbags for distribution to flood-prone houses and businesses. Or even propose a dike near the West interchange to protect the people there. They had a bad time of it during the last flood.

    Besides a La Nina or El Nino there are other ominous signs that disruptive weather has arrived to alter our “normal” winter weather.
    It remains to be seen if there is enough resolve to prepare Kittitas County for Mother Nature’s onslaught, and the Flood of 2011.

  75. lordoflys says:

    At this moment there is as much water flow entering Lake Cle Elum as the entire Yakima River at summer irrigation level. Over 4000 cfs. At this rate the reservoir will be at 50% of capacity by year’s end. The snowfall to date (12/14) is as we expected. Very heavy.
    It’s taken some time for the trout fishing to recover from the last flood. It sucks to have to go thru this whole thing again. If it happens. I hope not. However, Reclamation is advised to minimize water collection this early under these weather conditions. If we had another reservoir we wouldn’t have to take these kind of chances. Irrigation and flood control have never been priorities for Doc Hastings.

  76. lordoflys says:

    That ole January Chinook did us in again…but not too aggressively.
    But it is really a natural plus man-made situation, given Reclamation’s
    control of the mountain reservoirs. And I won’t harp on it much more but right now Lake Cle Elum is filling up fast…water storage is at 150% plus….putting us in a position to really suffer in March or April if the same variables are in place. I would recommend that Reclamation release 20-30% of the water in Lake Cle Elum just as soon as river conditions permit. Otherwise, things could get much worse. Bumping Lake is already nearly full. YIKES.