Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Hawkins begins quest for water rights"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Decision from the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board not expected anytime soon

The Whitman County Water Conservancy Board on Wednesday had what is expected to be the first of several meetings focused on requested water-right transfers for a proposed 700,000-square-foot retail center just across the stateline from Moscow.

Boise-based Hawkins Companies has applied to transfer annual rights for 120 acre-feet, or 40 million gallons, of water to its proposed development in Whitman County.

Hawkins Companies would have rights to the 40 million gallons of water if its requests are granted, although that does not mean the company will use that amount.

The company also applied to transfer 100 acre feet of a 700 acre-feet water right to the city of Colton in exchange for 23 acre feet of water the town was in the process of applying to use for municipal needs.

The board plans to begin site reviews before its next meeting later this month. The board will use standing hydrogeologic research, testimony from the public, and information and research from the applicant to determine whether water rights can be transferred from Colton, areas along Union Flat Creek and north of Pullman.

As part of the transfers, Hawkins Companies is requesting the annual rights to 74.5 acre feet, or 23 million gallons, that currently flow in the South Fork of the Palouse River be switched to water the company could extract from its wells.

Hawkins plans to drill two wells on its property - one in the deep Grande Ronde aquifer, and another in the shallow Wanupum aquifer. Water rights that tap into either the shallow or deep aquifer would apply to the water source to which it is allocated.

Hawkins wants the surface water rights in the South Fork of the Palouse River to apply to its shallow well.

The board's process could take several months.

The board had a few immediate questions for Hawkins Companies' representative Jeff Devoe. Board member Joe Spoonemore wanted more specific calculations on the effect Hawkins' proposed wells and water-right transfers would have on the immediate area. He also was curious about some of the perceived assumptions the company had regarding the stability of the Grande Ronde system.

Devoe said the company will work to clarify those questions and others that came from the audience.

Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman said Hawkins' hydrogeologic map outlining the area's water basin includes Colton and Uniontown. Workman said the notion that the basin stretches to the south is not an accepted theory in the area.

Neither the city of Moscow nor Mark Solomon, who represents the Palouse Water Conservation Network, raised immediate questions to the proposed transfers. Moscow Public Works Director Les MacDonald said the city probably will comment on the transfers, although it plans to hear more about the transfers before filing a protest.

Solomon said aspects of the proposed transfers violate Washington law by trying to take water out of one basin and applying it to another.

Protests to Hawkins' proposed water-right transfers can be made until the end of the month.

Devoe, project coordinator for the proposed development, said it was too early to comment on the studies its company sponsored or to forecast the board's decision.

Hawkins cannot begin construction on its 110-acre site until its water rights are secured.

The board scheduled another meeting for 2 p.m. March 28 at the Public Service Building in Colfax.
Today, the Daily News implemented a system of electronic comments on all stories for its online subscribers.

This comment on the above story was good:
Concerned says:

Being a Moscow Resident all my life. I would like to know why we are allowing people like Mark Solomon to be on communities that ultimaltely effect our growth and well being. He has proven over the years his views and opinion are very one sided. Usually on the far left side. He is a laughing stock in the state of Idaho and is given no respect. Yet the daily news allows him to publish in this paper. This paper runs his letters and from what I see agreees with him. I have to say if you contiue to side with this group of individuals you will never "BEAT the TRIBUNE". People dump this paper all the time because of the one sided reporting. Take a good look at what all the Solomons are doing to our community right now. The city is laughable. It is almost like watching a sitcom all the stupid this the mayor and counsil members say and do. It is really to bad we are becoming a bedroom community to a growing vibrant Pullman Community.
It evoked the following response from Scott Morrell:
Response to Concerned:

Mark Solomon cites objective, scientific evidence to make a case for conserving our resources. That probably explains why people heed his opinions. Rather than attack the man, why not refute what he has to say in an objective manner? Do you think Moscow's aquifer has plenty of water to support a big box development? Where is the evidence? The evidence I've read suggests the aquifer is declining, and a big box development will hasten that decline.

It's easy to put one's head in the sand and assume our resources are infinite. Thankfully, not everyone thinks that way.
Morell also has a comment on King Solomon's Town Crier column from yesterday:
As a person who plans to move to Moscow, I am sickened by the Hawkins Companies' proposal to site a big box development along the Idaho border. I commend Mark Solomon for his efforts to stop this "water grab."
Moreel wrote a similar letter to the editor back in December about Wal-Mart:
I subscribe to your paper electronically from Medford, Ore. I am quite disappointed by your editorial: “PARD Must Move on in Wal-Mart Debate” (Opinion, Dec. 4).

I plan to move my family to the Moscow-Pullman area. We are attracted to your communities because they are vibrant, well-planned small towns that exist on a human scale. And now you want a Wal-Mart super store?

I’ll tell you about Wal-Mart. They already have two stores in Medford. Apparently that isn’t enough. Wal-Mart is closing both to build three (count them, three) new super stores in the Medford area. The vacated stores will be massive eyesores. Medford has less than 80,000 people and a few smaller surrounding communities. Local merchants that now pay living wages will surely be forced to close. We feel invaded.

These super stores have been contested and appealed. But Wal-Mart’s big-money attorneys overwhelmed the community opposition. Why do you think Wal-Mart is so controversial? Many recognize Wal-Mart for what it is, a predatory behemoth with no regard for anything but profits. Sadly, there will always be those who demand the low prices. But at what cost?

Wal-Mart’s foray into the grocery business is troubling. We can boycott the cheap plastic junk. But everyone must eat. I’m happy to pay an extra quarter for my lettuce so the grocery clerk can earn a living wage. Moscow and Pullman already have several fine grocery stores. What a shame if Wal-Mart forces any of them out of business. After Wal-Mart’s “associates” collect their paltry salaries, the remaining spoils will be shipped off to Bentonville, Ark., further enriching the billionaire Walton family. Why not support your own hard-working merchants instead?

I sincerely hope the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development does not “move on.” They speak for many in your community, and beyond.

Scott Morrell, Medford, Ore.
So when exactly does Morrell plan to move from Medford to Moscow/Pullman? Until he does, perhaps he wouldn't mind keeping his elitist comments about our stores to himself.

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