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

Stanford Le has been named CEO and president of Snoqualmie Casino. Courtesy photo
Le named as new CEO of Snoqualmie Casino

The Snoqualmie Tribe has appointed Stanford Le as the CEO and president… Continue reading

King County logo
Auditors find racial disparities in King County contracts

BIPOC-owned businesses earn contract bids at a much lower rate than white-owned businesses.

North Bend City Hall. Courtesy of northbendwa.gov
Judge tosses out North Bend’s request to dismiss city water lawsuit

The lawsuit seeking to stop the plan from being implemented will proceed.

Tehani Mathers takes a photo. Contributed by Two Rivers High School
Two Rivers students and local businesses partner on shadow days, internships during pandemic

Courtesy of Two Rivers Big Picture High School The 2020-2021 school year… Continue reading

Courtesy of northbendwa.gov
North Bend adopts development code for downtown buildings

North Bend’s City Council unanimously approved a form-based code to guide development… Continue reading

Eurasian watermilfoil. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
Invasive milfoil plant may be linked to dwindling salmon population in Lake Sammamish

Those thick mats of vegetation floating just below the surface of Lake… Continue reading

How to enjoy the Snoqualmie Valley in a more mindful way

The Snoqualmie Tribe is asking visitors to think about how they interact with the outdoors.

Courtesy photo
News around the Valley: Water rates, firefighters, contracts

North Bend approves water rate hikes New water rates and general facilities… Continue reading

Photos of Kaloni Bolton. (Courtesy of Kristina Williams)
She couldn’t breathe: Child dies from asthma attack at Renton medical clinic

Family of Kaloni Bolton, 12, seeks answers as to why staff couldn’t treat her.

Most Read