Developer, Colton talk about exchange to open doors for corridor growthTake that No Super WalMart!!!!
The town of Colton wants to swap water rights with the developer of a proposed shopping mall along the Pullman-Moscow Highway.
Colton Mayor Greg Eylar said the city agreed to swap 22-acre-feet of water it was about to acquire in exchange for the rights to 100-acre-feet of water the Hawkins Companies are attempting to acquire.
One acre-foot of water is equal to 326,000 gallons of water.
Hawkins paid Colton $7,500 to delay finalizing the city’s right to the water and give the company time to find water rights the city could use.
Eylar said Hawkins representatives told city officials earlier this month that they found water rights they believe would work for Colton.
Hawkins representatives were not available for comment.
Eylar said the company plans to use the water rights so it can pursue permits for a shopping center just west of the Washington-Idaho state line.
Hawkins plans to build a 700,000 square-foot shopping center on Highway 270 that would include stores like Lowe’s and other national retailers.
Keith Stoffel, manager of the water research program for the state Department of Ecology in Spokane, said the department first met with officials from Hawkins in June to review the rules for water right transfers. Since then, Stoffel said Ecology and Hawkins have communicated but the state has not received an application for the transfer.
Stoffel said water right transfers do occur, but it’s not simple.
In addition to proving the validity of the water right claim, an applicant has to prove there is enough water in the system to transfer and the water can be pumped at the different location.
Stoffel said water rights cannot jump from one area to another, but groundwater has drainage areas similar to above ground rivers. The water right must apply to the area where the applicant wants to drill a well.
Eylar said Hawkins found water rights near LaCrosse. Union Flat Creek drains that area and flows past Colton. Eylar said Westwater Research, which was hired by Hawkins to find water rights for the proposed shopping center, told the city the 100-acre feet water rights should transfer to Colton because the town is in the creek’s drainage.
The water right could not extend to Hawkins proposed building site because it is outside the drainage area.
The water right Colton was pursuing could apply to the Hawkins development because it is located in the Moscow-Pullman Sub-basin.
Rylan Moore, transaction manager for Westwater Research LLC based in Vancouver, Wash., said Hawkins did not want any of its research released until the company and Colton finalize a deal and it becomes public record.
For Colton, the new water rights could equal growth.
“I think this could be a great thing for the city of Colton,” Eylar said. “It would give us a little room to grow and give the area some more retail.”
Brothers Greg and Art Schultheis wanted to develop about five acres on the outskirts of Colton into a residential area, but the city didn’t have the water rights for them to build.
The city submitted an application for additional water in 1994 and have waited since.
In June, the Schultheis brothers found water rights available for 22-acre feet of water on the outskirts of Pullman. The city then applied for .08 funds from the county and was about to pay $11,000 for the water right when Hawkins approached the town and proposed the exchange.
Eylar said the whole deal could have fallen through if Colton had secured the water right. Once a municipality controls a water right, it can’t sell it.
The deal isn’t done yet. It still must be approved by the Department of Ecology.
Stoffel said the application will be reviewed by the local water conservation board, and then be forwarded to the state. No guarantee or timeline exist for its approval.
Monday, November 20, 2006
"Hawkins looks to swap rights for water"
From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News: