Centennial Well is tightly connected to the Snoqualmie River. The well can provide enough water for North Bend, but is required to have two sources of backup water for dry years. It has one backup mitigation source, but still needs another to satisfy Washington State Department of Ecology regulations. File photo

Centennial Well is tightly connected to the Snoqualmie River. The well can provide enough water for North Bend, but is required to have two sources of backup water for dry years. It has one backup mitigation source, but still needs another to satisfy Washington State Department of Ecology regulations. File photo

King County approves North Bend water plan

Plan still requires state approval; city needs backup mitigation water source for summer months.

North Bend’s water system plan was approved Jan. 27 by King County Council, paving the way for the city to supply water to a planned housing complex and a proposed National Guard armory.

The King County Utilities Technical Review Committee in October recommended the county council approve the plan. If the water system plan is approved by the state Department of Health, it will remain in effect for five years. Water system plans are generally approved for a minimum of 10 years, but the city sought a shorter term.

North Bend needs a backup mitigation water source for hot, dry summer months. As a condition of its Centennial Well permit, which came online in 2009, it needs backup sources of water so when flows in the Snoqualmie River are low, the city can pump water into the river. Cold water with adequate river levels are essential for native salmon species, which have been struggling in recent decades to survive.

So far, the city hasn’t found a full backup mitigation source. For more than a decade, city officials have been in on-and-off talks with the neighboring Sallal Water Association to provide this mitigation water. Sallal also needs water because it’s running short on its own water supplies. Past proposals between the two entities have included a trade, whereby Sallal would provide mitigation water to North Bend when needed, and North Bend would sell water to Sallal to meet the needs of new developments. But to date, no agreement has been reached.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, at the Jan. 26 meeting, said North Bend was seeking a five-year water system plan to show that they know what they’re doing as they work toward finding a backup mitigation source.

“I think this is the very best agreement that we are going to see,” she said.

The city’s water system plan was approved in a 7-2 vote. Rod Dembowski and Dave Upthegrove voted against approving the plan.

Dembowski said he would have liked to have heard from the Utilities Technical Review Committee leadership directly about the plan. He was also skeptical that a deal between North Bend and Sallal would materialize, and he questioned a mitigation alternative listed in the plan, where the city could build a water pipe to Chester Morse Lake’s reservoir. The Chester Morse reservoir is in the Cedar River watershed, and Dembowski asked whether the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe had been adequately informed of that possibility.

The water system plan will now need to be approved by the North Bend City Council and the state Department of Health. North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland said in an email statement that he expects approval from both agencies.

“Over the past two years we devoted countless hours creating a sound plan to provide our water customers with safe, reliable water,” McFarland said in the statement.

Others voiced their opposition to the decision, including Jean Buckner, longtime water conservation advocate and president of Friends of the Snoqualmie Trail and River. The organization has been pushing back against the city’s water plan until it finds a backup mitigation source.

In a letter to the county council, Buckner urged them to review the water system plan again with updated data and in light of the city and Sallal calling off negotiations.

“If the city heads down the path of over-committing resources to accommodate the pressure of growth, then we could end up where a hard choice must be made,” Buckner states.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for Feb. 2 on the plan.

A water war between the city and Sallal has been ongoing for years. Last April, Sallal denied water service to a large parcel of land that could house a new National Guard armory. It’s located southeast of a plot known as the Dahlgren property, which was removed from Sallal’s service area in 2019. Both parcels will be incorporated into North Bend’s service area under the updated water service plan.

Grading and clearing has already begun on the Dahlgren property, which will host a 212-unit housing development. In October, a North Bend spokesperson said water service wouldn’t be hooked up at the project for more than a year. They expected the water system plan to receive approval from both the county and the state.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
North Bend City Hall. Courtesy of northbendwa.gov
North Bend approves sewer rate increases

A 2.5% annual sewer rate increase was approved March 2 by the… Continue reading

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. File photo
Encouraging numbers for kokanee salmon spawn count

Lake Sammamish kokanee aren’t out of the woods by any stretch, but… Continue reading

One of the letters Snoqualmie teen Savonnah Mitchell sent out to across the U.S. Mitchell sent a letter to one random house in each state in July. Contributed by Savonnah Mitchell
Snoqualmie teen sends letters of hope across the country

Savonnah Mitchell sent out letters to one address in every state, inspiring others to pass it on.

In this file photo, Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20, 2020, in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

File photo
Study shows Washingtonians exceeded ‘heavy drinking’ threshold in 2020

The survey suggests Washingtonians drank more than 17 alcoholic beverages a week on average.

Mercer Island School District first-graders returned to in-person classes on Jan. 19, 2021. Here, Northwood Elementary School students head into the building. Photo courtesy of the Mercer Island School District
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

Malden, after a wildfire burned down 80% of the town’s buildings in Eastern Washington. Courtesy photo
DNR commissioner seeks $125 million to fight wildfires

In Washington state last September, some 600,000 acres burned within 72 hours.

Teaser
New Fall City Fire Chief is on the job

Chief Brian Culp started in the position at the beginning of February.

Most Read