June 7, 2005
from Marguerite Glover
Dear Clallam County Commissioners:
I continue to be amazed that we, the County, buy into the statewide DOE opinion that there is never enough water. USGS, the Montgomery Water Group, and others, have documented that we in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley have three aquifers and two aquitards. Even in dry years, we have glaciers, in our relatively low mountains, which melt. We have artesian water springing up in fields and out on Jamestown Road, near the waterfront. The hard soils of the Southern foothills cannot, for the most part, absorb the water coming down from snowmelt in the mountains. In fact, the U.S. Government well out on the Dungeness Spit, which is about 700 feet deep, has FRESH water in it. That should tell you something about the pressure of the water coming down from the mountains and under our Valley. There is no defined aquifer to the South of the Highway. Water collects in fissures in the basalt and bedrock. Even though there is connectivity between the aquifers to the North, there is more water than exempt wells could ever use--AND, those exempt wells are mostly on properties with septic systems, where there is quite a bit of aquifer recharge any way.
We need to spend staff time and money on the real problems--proper septic system placement and maintenance, storm water management, clearing and grading controls, etc. Why are we giving into Ecology wanting control over something which is NOT impacting the River to any significant degree? The County, Irrigators, and Tribe made a wonderful, historic agreement wherein the irrigators agreed not to take anywhere near the water which they were adjudicated (and did not need)--so that the Dungeness River would have more water for the salmon. Agricultural irrigation uses far more water than does exempt wells. Yet, the WRIA 18 proposal would see the consolidation of water systems, and the preference for community and public water systems over exempt wells. Public water, in conjunction with a sewer system, does not put much water back into the hydrologic system. But, it does afford Ecology more control--which is the entire point. The well drillers have been correct for years--there IS enough water in this State. The whole controversy is about MANAGEMENT of the water.
I do not object to the Planning Entities calling for drilling into the deeper aquifers. Some wells were drilled too shallow, and were being artificially recharged by irrigation and by irrigation ditches. But, as the Clarks would point out to you, we don't know if drilling deeper would be "mining" of the lower aquifers or not. The upper aquifer is obviously replenished from irrigation, irrigation stream tailwaters, runoff, etc. I also see nothing to object to in providing off-stream water storage. This was proposed over 10 years ago, and never implemented. We have mass quantities of fresh water which end up in the Strait.
I see a huge expense in this WRIA 18 Plan--for new development, for continued studies and planning, monitoring, enforcement, and management. Agencies in Washington State need to expand and justify their existence. I know that DOE has wanted a physical presence on the Peninsula. I have more trust in local government than I do in State Government. And, I wish that Clallam County would stand up to the State and refute their blanket proposals. But, I have seen the "conserve water" notices in the restaurants and motels in Forks (heart of the rain forest). I don't think we can buck the rising tide of regulation for the sake of regulation. I wish our County Commissioners would.
Marguerite A Glover
103 Pond Lane
Sequim WA 98382
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