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Leaders should help with tough decisions
I think you could subtitle your opinion piece (Aug. 31 editorial);
"Are They Mutually Exclusive?" I have
only been here 18 months, but I have seen many articles on how the
Snoqualmie Valley area is sitting on huge aquifers that will be critical to the growth
of the Eastside.
In spite of the importance of this resource, there seems to be little
activity to determine the sizes and locations of the aquifers, and, more
importantly (as you point out), the accumulated projected usage. We seem
to be content to say there is a lot of water down there, and we can use it for
this project and that project and there will always be more. Doesn't
common sense cry out for a study and a plan?
The entire scenario seems akin to a teen-ager with his/her first bank
account and no training or experience in handling money. Given an
unknown sum by the parents, no stated balance in the account and no budget for
income or outgo, the teen-ager is left to his/her own devices to do with
the money what he/she will.
So what happens? Well, the immediate needs are satisfied without
a long-range plan being put into effect. The money goes for clothes,
dates, CDs, etc., until suddenly the bank says there is no more money in the
account. Then the teen-ager asks, "Where do I get more?"
This is what we are doing with water. We have said the Eastside
aquifers will be needed in the future to fuel growth. How many aquifers are
there? Where are they located? How big are they? How much can we use them
and still have them replenished by rainfall? What is our annual water budget?
Currently the Department of Ecology is not processing any well
permits, and yet King County is considering two projects that seem ludicrous
in light of their potential impact. First and foremost is the North Bend
gravel project proposed by Cadman. By Cadman's own conservative
estimates, this will consume 48 million gallons of water annually. Where will they
get this water? They will drill a well into an aquifer! They will also grade
the lower project site down to a level dangerously close to the top of the
aquifer, even though no one knows just where the top of the aquifer
is. Cadman's record in Monroe makes that a worrisome proposition at best.
The second project is Glacier Northwest's proposal to start
blasting without any real knowledge of what the impact will be on the aquifer.
With consistent, long-term blasting in a localized area, in close proximity
to known aquifers, isn't it logical to expect that this could cause some
settling that might damage the capacity of the aquifer? (Editor's note:
Glacier Northwest disputes this claim.) What are we going to do, wait until a
catastrophe happens and then regret we didn't think about it sooner?
As you say at the end of your editorial, tough questions and
even tougher solutions lie ahead. Why are you the only one asking about
this? Where are our community leaders in this? Are they demanding further
studies and better answers, or are they quiet, waiting to hear what
King County, Cadman, Glacier Northwest and the big political contributors
have to say? Are they leaders, or are they pawns?
Tough questions and tough solutions demand intelligent, forceful
leaders with common sense, leaders who will do what is right, rather than
what is politically expedient.