09/19/2008: "Letters On Use Of Right-Of-Way"
To the Editor:
To all the folks who are concerned about the removal of inland water to develop waterfront properties in San Juan County, imagine the worst case scenario, it is happening to our freshwater resources.
There is a company who has applied to the county for a "Franchise" to lay a pipeline in our public right of way in order to pump 14,440 gallons of water per day from Agricultural Resource Lands. If allowed it would be devastating to the environment, water would be mined and piped to develop 100 acres of R-5 parcels on Dolphin Bay Road on Orcas Island, Washington. This just seems impossible. It reminds me of what Mulholland did before removing water from Owens Valley to supply Los Angeles. 150 years of agricultural use hangs in the balance.
A hearing will be held on September 29 at the Orcas Senior Center at 11:30 am to allow the public to provide testimony and submittal of written comments regarding the waterline "Franchise" application. All folks interested are encouraged to attend, written comments may be submitted in advance of the hearing by mail/email. Email comments should be sent to AnnL@co.san-juan.wa.us for additional information contact the Clerk of the County Council at 360-378-2898 or Public Works 360-370-0500.
This water line franchise application will be taking water from the Class III wetland at 121 McNallie Lane trenching 490 feet through wetland to the "Public Right of Way" then trenching 3816 feet along the paved roads to Quarry Lane which is only a fraction of the 3.4 miles needed to reach the 100 acres of R-5 properties on the waterfront of Dolphin Bay. It is unfortunate that developers from Fredericksburg, Virginia have decided on such a radical approach to exploit Orcas Island for their profit, clearly not considering those of us who live here and pay the taxes to support such infrastructure and projects. I do hope the County Council will hear from those of us who are concerned about the precedent it is setting. Our agricultural land and Crow Valley water source ought not be ruined and removed for the latest waterfront development scheme.
As added insult, RHBR, LLC has applied to the Department of Ecology to "appropriate public waters" from the small Crow Valley well at "10 gallons per minute each year for multiple domestic supply." Such a request is un-precedented from a small 45' deep exempt well. Freshwater removal will adversely impact the Westsound watershed and all of its water supplies. To object approval of the application you must send a detailed statement of the basis of the objection and a $50 check or money order for the recording fee. It needs to be filed with the Dept of Ecology within 30 days.
The application to appropriate public waters at a rate of 10 gallons per minute each year (there are 525,600 minutes in a year) from the Westsound Watershed in order to sell it and develop land miles away in the East Sound Watershed would alter our small island hydrology to such an extent that wells and creeks would run dry and agriculture would be rendered impossible. This appropriation would "use, divert, and change the natural flow and bed of the freshwaters of the state" in Crow Valley on Orcas Island, Washington.
Please write and call your County Council and the Department of Ecology and attend the September 29 hearing at the Senior Center to help stop this and future projects that would decidedly be environmental and cultural disasters.
Sincerely and concerned,
Dana N. Kinsey