Editor’s note: This is a copy of a letter sent to the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Obtaining additional public water for the city of North Bend under application No. G1-26617 from both production and mitigation wells does not bring forth any rational justification when the spring site at the base of Mount Si still yields an additional volume for consumption without the additional cost of wasted energy pumping from either types of wells. If one of the goals of the DOE (Department of Ecology) is conservation, then the department must look at the need for additional water for the city from a more rational point of view.
In 1965, the city was given rights to a maximum instantaneous withdrawal of 5.0 cubic feet per second. Studies at this time verified that the spring was producing 9 cubic feet per second. At the time the difference was being considered for a fish hatchery that appears never to have been developed. So the excess water not used by the city flows into the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, eventually entering the natural hydrological system. This 4 cubic feet per second makes very little impact on the medium river flow of approximately 1,800 cubic feet per second this time of the year. But it makes a big impact on the city’s water utility budget for the cost of pumping water from wells just to put back into the river. Conservation comes in many forms but substituting one water source for another considering the expense of electrical consumption to operate pumps is not conservation.
During my tenure as mayor for the city of North Bend in 1986, giardia tests were discovered in the storage pond just below the spring site. A sizable expenditure was made to complete the construction of a so-called infiltration gallery. This was a system of large stainless steel perforated piping to collect the spring water. The piping was covered with clean gravel or crushed rock, soil and planted with a grass cover. This capital investment should not be ignored in developing other costly sources of water.
I have been aware of the water challenges facing the city ever since I was a member of the Planning Commission back in the 1960s. The city lost its site at Clough Creek during this period and worked diligently to provide the new source at Mount Si. It is sad to think that current jurisdictional agencies cannot rapidly facilitate the city now that it needs so-called additional water rights. I guess the source at Mount Si still provides this source without any jurisdictional control. The water is there at little or no additional cost to the city. The city has already made the investment. Please use some common sense and grant the certificate for the water that is already being provided to the residents of this city.
I recognize that the city of North Bend’s over consumption is derived from the deceptive annual allowance of 336 acre feet. My calculations extending cubic feet per second and acre feet to gallons per year indicates that the so-called instantaneous withdrawal calculates to 1,179,446,400 gallons per year and the annual is 109,478,477 gallons per year. This indicates the annual acre feet volume is only one tenth of the instantaneous. It also indicates that the volume of water at the spring will meet the needs of the city for some time into the future. I cannot rationalize how the original numbers were calculated. At least they were not developed by the DOE as this was before the department was ever created. Maybe someone can relate to me the huge disparity between instantaneous and annual allocations.
The city has two water storage tanks. When the pumps operate at the spring site, the instantaneous flow must surely exceed the 5 cfs. When the pump shuts down and the city receives water from a gravity flow, there is no instantaneous flow. How is this put into the annual allocation calculation?
Regardless of how flows and consumption are calculated, the bottom line is to consider the currently available water source and all reasonable conservation alternatives. With the Growth Management Act now putting more emphasis on cities as the county has maximized its growth in designated areas, the DOE should be quickly addressing the consumption water needs for the city of North Bend. Existing structures are currently without water and existing vacant land is readily available for the construction of homes and residences. Don’t kill the American dream as everyone is entitled to live where they choose and where housing is available.
Obe M. Healea Jr.