County ready for next round on WRIA

Peninsula News Network

Port Angeles, WA - 5/5/05 - 6-months after the ideas were blasted in lengthy public hearings, Clallam County commissioners are ready to take another crack on getting public consensus on a controversial watershed management plan.

Last winter, county commissioners faced an avalanche of opposition when they held the first public hearings on the proposed Watershed Resource Inventory Area plan, or WRIA 18, a package of guidelines for managing water in the Dungeness and Elwha River watersheds.

Although the plans had been under development since the late 1990s, many residents, developers, well drillers and others said they were totally caught off guard by the hefty planning book. And they expressed fears that the guidelines would lead to new regulations that could hurt the county’s ability to grow.

Backers of the plan, including agencies like the tribes and other local governments, argued that the plans were developed with local conditions in mind, and would be better than having the state dictate water management rules.

Given the concerns, commissioners decided to go back to the drawing board and make revisions based on the input. That process has taken the past several months, but this week commissioners were told that the revised WRIA plan is ready for review. Participating agencies had a deadline to offer their comments this week, and next week the board is expected to schedule another hearing on the revised plan later this month. Then it will be up to commissioners to decide whether to accept, or reject the plan as written, or remand it back to the drafting agencies for changes. The board has said it went through the process of analyzing the input from last summer so that if the plan is remanded, the planning partners will have a better idea of where to start making changes.


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