Thoughts on Sallal and North Bend water | Letter to the editor

In response to the Snoqualmie Valley Record’s story about Sallal and North Bend water negotiations:

There are four major problems with proposed solutions as outlined in the article.

Both North Bend and Sallal Wells are in the Snoqualmie River Watershed – so any borrowing from one to pay the other and then vice versa is simply a shell game. It represents a scenario where you are borrowing from Peter to pay Peter. Here is a document that outlines convincing evidence that Sallal Wells are in the Snoqualmie River Watershed:

Legally, Sallal Wells water rights come after the rights of the Snoqualmie River. We believe that had DOE regulations followed the intent of the law at the time, Sallal would have been required to mitigate their wells. However, when the water right was granted, ill-conceived regulatory definitions available at the time were used to sidestep the intent of the law. These regulatory definitions were later thrown out by the courts because the result would be harmful to the river. However, because the regulatory definitions were in place at the time Sallal Wells received their water right permit, Sallal was exempt from having to mitigate the Snoqualmie. If Sallal were to secure additional water rights, they would have to be mitigated per the law.

Also Sallal must hold two member-owner meetings (all Sallal members are also owners of the organization) to discuss any potential deal before a deal can be signed. Sallal’s ability to convince that the agreement with the city is good for Sallal members is not a given. Sallal members may prefer to keep their water for themselves and not enable additional development — which further increases the strain on both member-owners and the river.

Sallal doesn’t appear to have sufficient water to share.

North Bend can build their own reservoirs. The reason they may want Sallal to do so is due to Sallal’s current exemption from mitigation — something North Bend does not have. This plan is a shell game that ends up further depleting the river and increasing the need for member and resident summer water restrictions. The only reason North Bend is interested in Sallal is because Sallal’s water right permit would allow North Bend to elude the requirement to protect the river.

Jean Buckner,

President, Friends of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and River