Commissioners irked by Realtors' information letter about upcoming meetings

Citizen Review Online

February 1, 2005

Port Angeles, WA - At the regular Clallam County Commissioner's worksession held Monday, Jan. 31, county staff planner Ann Soule brought up a letter that local Realtors and Homebuilders had mailed out to landowners in the area. They were disturbed about the letter, saying it was "full of misinformation" about the proposed WRIA 18 Watershed Management Plan. Commissioner Steve Tharinger wanted to know who had written the letter, and Mike McAleer, one of three Realtors present, replied that he had. The commissioner challenged McAleer about one of the points in the letter - that they would obligate the county to enter into an agreement with area tribes and the Department of Ecology. McAleer replied that was a true statement. Tharinger responded that the commissioners had only "agreed to agree".

The Realtors have written another letter, which follows:

"Please come to the WRIA 18 Meeting Wed, February 2nd, at the Sequim High School Cafeteria. This one will be about Groundwater. It's from 6:30 to 9 PM. The second one is Feb 8th, at the Roosevelt Middle High School. Also from 6:30 to 9 PM, and about instream flows.

"The Commissioners were quite disappointed with our mailing informing unimproved property owners about the two meetings and about the possibility of limitations being put on our future ability to drill exempt wells.

"They felt the mailing was misleading and inflammatory. The information in the mailing is correct. I'd be glad to fax anyone a copy if they would like to see it.
There is a good discussion of the History of the Dungeness River and its flows, in "Keys to an Understanding of the Natural History of the Dungeness River System." It can be found on the Dungeness River website.
From it, we discover that the River flows could fluctuate "widely" based on varying precipitation and snow packs in different years. For example, "February of 1916 holds the record for one of the worst storms experienced in the northwest, with nearly 2 ft of snow in Seattle in 24 hours, 2 ½ feet of snow and high winds in Port Angeles..."

"When you look at the mean CFS [cubic feet per second] for the "wet" season of Oct through March, and the "dry" season of April through September, you have to remember that the Dungeness originates in the mountains; and, the snowpack STORES winter wet-season precipitation for run-off during the following dry season. There was one peak of incredible flow, just over 700 CFS, in one month in 1899. In contrast, 1924-1930 never made it to 500 CFS in a month.

"There is a cumulative record of 68 years of gaging of the river flow, with an uninterrupted continuous gage record for the past 58 of those years. In 1983, the annual mean river flow DOUBLED from a low in 1977 to a HIGH of about 540 cfs (page 14 of the "Keys...Dungeness River"). The water year mean flow for the River from 1924 to 1994 was 375 CFS. The Regulatory Instream Flow Levels recommended by the WRIA 18 plan for the Dungeness are: Jan, Feb, March, 575 CFS each month. April, May, June, July, 475 CFS each month. Aug, Sept, Oct, 180 CFS each month. Nov, Dec, 575 CFS each month. What happens if we cannot meet those optimal instream flows?

"Then, no new water rights or new wells can be issued/drilled—UNLESS there is a reserve established for new development/future buildout. Ecology and the County HAVE committed to supplying such a reserve; but, neither they nor we know how much that will be as of today. They will be working on it.

"Other considerations are recommendations to limit the amount of impervious surface in the Valley, hopefully, to no more than 7%. Limit the gpd [gallons per day] used by individual domestic wells, change some land use and animal keeping practices, etc. Some of these measures are VERY GOOD! Some of them aren't quantified yet; and some of them, we wonder about their scientific validity. The County will be addressing those issues at the Focus Sessions.

"Come to the meetings and learn and give input. We all want to be good stewards of our land! We also want to protect property rights, and not have regulations which don't help the environment.

"Thank you for your interest and diligence.

"Marguerite Glover and Mike McAleer, Co-Chairs, Government Affairs
Sequim Association of Realtors"

Commissioner Mike Chapman stated that the meeting would break people up into little groups to discuss the Plan, rather than hold a general meeting where citizens' voices could be heard by everyone.



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