County promises more safety monitoring if city cuts off water to PUD

Peninsula News Network


Clallam County officials are watching the fight between the PUD and city closely because of concerns about how the water cutoff could effect public health.

Commissioner Mike Doherty and county Health Officer Tom Locke were at Tuesday’s PUD meeting to see what the PUD commissioners might do with the proposed contract.

Locke told the board that the county’s primary concern is just over protecting public health if the city water is cutoff. And he said the county will be doing more water monitoring if the PUD tries to provide service on its own.

Locke said the county has reviewed the PUD’s contingency plans that were sent to the state last week and he said it appears the utility will be able to meet the demands of its customers, but only if people participate with an order to conserve water.


PUD slams city's latest water contract offer

Peninsula News Network

7/7/04 - Clallam County PUD commissioners blast the latest offer to buy wholesale water from the City of Port Angeles, setting up the potential for the water to be cutoff next week.

Both agencies have been unable to reach agreement on a new water agreement in recent weeks, with some of the main problems centered over a provision by the city to have new water customers sign an agreement to not fight future annexation into the city. Last month, city leaders informed PUD commissioners they would have to shut off the water if a contract wasn't signed by July 12th.

Tuesday afternoon, commissioners met in executive session for about 45 minutes before coming back to reject the latest compromise that had been worked out in private meetings over the past week.

Commissioner Will Purser said he didn't think the proposal really represented a compromise, while Commissioner Hugh Haffner blasted Port Angeles leaders for including the annexation question in the latest contract proposal.

Haffner had harsh words for the city, saying the PUD wasn’t going to “be the city’s stooge” by forcing people to agree to annexation. He claimed that the city's contract offer was "illegal" and immoral and showed no inclinations of moving to sign the proposed contract that was on the table.

Commissioner Ted Simpson offered "no comment" on the situation and seemed visibly upset. An audience made up exclusively of annexation opponents said they applauded the PUD's move and said they would be pressing the city to back off.

Commissioners tabled the proposed contract, leaving the matter up in the air. PUD officials have said they will still be able to provide water to customers without the city's supply, but conservation measures will be imposed.

City officials have continued to say they are merely trying to protect the rights and investment made by Port Angeles residents in the city's system of pipes and reservoirs. City council leaders told PNN they had offered to change the proposed contract so that the “no protest” annexation provision would only apply to new water customers and only if the city does extend service into the eastern Urban Growth Area.


Dicks tries to salvage Elwha water agreement

Peninsula News Network


Clallam County, WA - The fight over water with the PUD isn’t the only H20 problem facing the City of Port Angeles this week.
Peninsula News Network has learned that high level efforts are underway this week to resolve a dispute over water rights that could throw a monkey wrench in plans to build a new Port Angeles water system and tear down the Elwha River dams.
Leaders from the city, Olympic National Park, the Lower Elwha tribe and Nippon Paper Industries were involved in a closed-door meeting Friday with Congressman Norm Dicks that was attempting to iron out questions that are blocking signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the parties. That “MOU” would open the door to federal funding to build the new Port Angeles water system, a key step that must happen before the dams are demolished, effecting local water quality.
However, questions over future water rights, and the quality of water from the river have the various parties at odds.

Dicks told PNN after the meeting his staff is trying to work out those differences so the dams project can move forward. He says major issues include not just water rights, but how to ensure that NPI can continue to receive water of high enough quality so that operation of the mill on Ediz Hook isn’t effected.

Extensive research and design work has already been completed to develop a new water system that will be able to handle the sediment that’s expected to be released into the river once the dams are torn down. At one point, it was expected the new water system would have been constructed last year. Dicks remains hopeful that the present talks will help to resolve the remaining technical issues.
Those talks are continuing this week.



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