TANNESEN THE OLYMPIAN
LACEY, WA - 6/12/02 - -- Watering the sidewalk
and the street doesn't just waste water and bump up the water
It could prevent Lacey from keeping up with the demand for
Water conservation could help the growing city keep pace with
new development without new water rights through about 2009
instead of 2006.
By then, conservation -- coupled with new water rights the
Department of Ecology could approve or deny -- would allow the
city's water supply to keep pace with demand into the future.
"So conservation is a very important part of what we
do," said Peter Brooks, Lacey Water Resources manager.
Lacey's staff is looking at the city's water resources and
other water issues while putting together the Water System
Comprehensive Plan, which is due at the Department of Health by
Lacey uses an average of 3.6 million gallons per day, but the
amount can triple on a hot day, city officials say.
The city needs to plan for peak days.
If residents used 1 percent less water each year, the city
would have enough for growth through 2009, according to city
Otherwise, the city could be looking at problems around 2006.
"The other alternative, of course, is that people control
their own destiny," Brooks said, referring to water
North Bend faces the worst-case scenario.
North Bend declared a growth moratorium in 1999 because it
doesn't have enough water rights to cover the city's demands, said
Ron Garrow, North Bend's Public Works director and city engineer.
A new building can go in, but only if it doesn't use more water
than the building it's replacing.
The city of 5,000 people depends on a spring for water but
would like to drill a well.
North Bend submitted an application for water rights in 1992 to
the Department of Ecology, but the application is waiting to be
Lacey submitted five water rights applications for seven wells
in 1994 and 1995.
The applications are among the Department of Ecology's backlog
of 7,000 applications for new or modified water rights, said Curt
Hart, spokesman for Ecology's Water Resources Program.
The underground water that Lacey would draw from is connected
to the water in McAllister and Woodland creeks, Hart said.
A state rule prohibits taking more water from either creek
without somehow replacing it.
Lacey needs to find a way to lessen the impact on the
salmon-bearing creeks, Hart said.
"We're not saying it can't be done," Hart said.
But Ecology needs proof that the new water rights won't harm
Lacey officials are aware mitigation is required, but Ecology
has not said how much water is needed for mitigation, Brooks said.
Lacey officials hope a water model that Olympia is working on
might answer some questions, Brooks said.
"What we would have to do is come up with another source
of water," he said.
One form of mitigation the city is considering is the use of
reclaimed water that the LOTT wastewater alliance will be
producing in Hawks Prairie in a couple of years.
An application is no guarantee that water rights will be
granted, Hart said.
Ecology must determine whether water is available, whether the
use is beneficial and in the public interest and that the new
rights won't impair existing rights.
Ecology is working on the 7,000 applications, Hart said.
The Legislature gave the department some better tools last
year, such as allowing the department to process changes to water
rights before working on the new rights, Hart said.
This year, Ecology has processed 81 applications for new water
About 32 percent were approved, Hart said.
"The situation we're facing with the city of Lacey is not
unique," Hart said.
"A lot of areas in the state of Washington are facing the
same thing. Even though it rains all the time in the state of
Washington, water is a finite resource."