Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, November 09, 2007

"Hawkins appeals denied water right transfer; Developer files notice with Department of Ecology on fourth transfer"

This is great news. Despite all the wrongheaded efforts by the Queen of the Meanies, King Solomon, and our own Department of Ecological Fallacies, Hawkins has not given up on Whitman County. From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

Hawkins Companies isn't ready to end its battle over water rights needed for its proposed 700,000-square-foot shopping development on the Pullman-Moscow Highway.

Hawkins filed an appeal with Washington's Pollution Control Hearings Board this week over the Department of Ecology's decision to deny a transfer from the South Fork of the Palouse River.

Representatives from the Boise-based Hawkins Companies were unable to be reached for comment.

In October, Ecology denied one of four water-right transfers the company was seeking to be used for the development just across the state line from Idaho. The Whitman County Water Conservancy Board had recommended the approval of all four transfers. Ecology reversed the water conservancy board's decision to approve a surface-water diversion from the South Fork of the Palouse River because the required plan to "mitigate," or make up for, effects to Paradise Creek was inadequate.

Keith Stoffel, a section manager at Ecology, wrote in a ruling letter to Hawkins that the diversion was denied because of issues with wastewater and the conservancy board's decision to allow year-round use in "unavoidable circumstances," which "would negatively impact Paradise Creek."

Hawkins planned only to use the South Fork of the Palouse River water right from January to May and from September to December, unless circumstances required the use of the water right from June to August.

Earlier this week, the city of Moscow filed an appeal over the three approved transfers, citing that each water right was located in two different bodies of public groundwater and the transfers would impair existing water rights, not be in the public's interest and would improperly modify the manner of the rights' intended use. The appeal also cited Ecology's failure to conduct an analysis of the average amount of water use from the rights over the past five years.

In March, the company applied to transfer 120 acre-feet, or 40 million gallons, of water to its proposed development in addition to applying to transfer 100 acre-feet of a 391-acre-feet water right to Colton in exchange for 23 acre-feet of water. The water conservancy board approved the transfers in July.

Hawkins officials previously said the company hoped to begin construction this fall.

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