Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, April 27, 2007

King Solomon and the Knights of the Water Table

The Whitman County Water Conservancy Board held a meeting in Colfax Wednesday night on the proposed water rights transfers for the Hawkins Companies corridor project.

Mark Solomon was present, as well as a senior City of Moscow official. Witnesses tell me that Solomon was making hand signals like a third base coach. Not surprising I guess, considering both Solomon and Moscow are protesting the transfer of the water rights.

We have already seen what happens to a volunteer who crosses Nancy Chaney. I suppose a paid city staffer really has no choice but to toe the King and Queen's party line.

Yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News carried the story:
Water conservancy board asks the state for assistance

Ecology will weigh in on Hawkins Companies' water rights transfers

The Whitman County Water Conservancy Board has asked the Washington State Department of Ecology for technical assistance regarding water rights transfers being sought by a Boise-based development firm that wants to build a shopping center in the Pullman-Moscow corridor.

The city of Moscow and Mark Solomon, a local activist, filed protests with the board and Ecology earlier this month over Hawkins Companies' proposed transfers, saying the water it wants to transfer to its proposed development does not exist in the Palouse Basin aquifer system and would deplete area wells and jeopardize a reliable water system.

Board Chairman Ed Schultz said the board needs clarification on the hydrogeologic structures of the area and help determining the impact of transfers and addressing Moscow and Solomon's concerns.

Hawkins Companies has applied to transfer annual rights for 120 acre feet, or 40 million gallons, of water to its proposed 700,000-square-foot development in Whitman County, which would butt up against Moscow city limits and the Idaho border.

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 seeking for its municipal needs.

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.

The board's next meeting is set for 10 a.m. May 14 at the Public Service Building in Colfax. Schultz said the board plans to begin structuring a final draft on two of the proposed transfers, but he doesn't expect that the board will make a recommendation to Ecology at that time.

Once a recommendation is made, Ecology will review the recommendation and make a final ruling.
By the way, the King has not just confined his meddling to Whitman County, as evidenced by this comment on the Daily News website:
Pullman's plan to offer rebates for installation of low-flush toilets is great and I wish Moscow would start a similar program. However the largest potential for water savings is achieved by controlling outdoor landscape irrigation (lawn watering), an area that the Pullman plan leaves untouched. Moscow has seen significant reductions, in the order of over a hundred million gallons per year, just by restricting lawn watering to the cooler part of the day to reduce evaporative losses.


April E. Coggins said...

Hmmmmmm. So a wild water spender "saves" water at a larger percentage than the frugal water spender? That's not surprising.

The entire premise is stupid.

Sarcastic Housewife #1 said...

I find all this fascinating in light of the recent fines they had to pay for polluting the water that comes down stream into Whitman County as well as using more of the water than they are allotted. Hmmmm....