Talks on water allocation are 'moving forward'


Skagit Valley Herald

Skagit County, WA - 8/28/02 - Meetings aimed at providing a water allocation for rural Skagit County were described as productive by some of the participants Tuesday.

Skagit County officials are meeting with their counterparts from Anacortes, the Skagit County Public Utility District and the local tribes to change an agreement that allocates water out of the Skagit River.

When the agreement was approved by the state in 2001, it was missing an allocation for rural well users. The county commissioners say the lack of such an allocation will stop development in areas outside those now served by the PUD and Anacortes.

Commission Chair Don Munks, who represented the county, said there wasn't much substance in the discussions held on Thursday and Tuesday.

"The bright spot for me as a county commissioner is the other three parties - the tribes, PUD and the City of Anacortes - were all willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the county's needs are accomplished without having to go through the legal means," he said.


If the county can't negotiate a change with the other signers of the agreement, it can ask the state Department of Ecology to change the allocations. If that fails, the county can go to court next year.

Munks said he didn't expect that to happen.

Ken Kukuk, general manager of the utility district, described the meeting as productive and not combative.

There was "a lot of movement and not a lot of fire," he said. "We're moving forward."

Larry Wasserman, who represented the tribes at Tuesday's meeting, agreed.

"We're optimistic we'll find a solution," he said.

The 2001 agreement allocates water not only to the utilities and the tribes, but also gives a water right to the Skagit River, setting a minimum flow level to provide for fish passage.

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