Methow Valley Irrigation District appeals Ecology order

by John Hanron
Methow Valley News

Methow Valley, WA - 5/24/02 - Erroneous, arbitrary, capricious, irrational, insidious, unlawful and unconstitutional.

Thatís what the Methow Valley Irrigation District (MVID) is calling an order issued by the Department of Ecology last month, attempting to limit the districtís withdrawals from the Twisp and Methow rivers.

The DOE handed down the order April 29, directing that the MVID limit its withdrawals to 29 cubic feet per second from the Twisp River and 24 cfs from the Methow River. Historically, the district drew a combined 90 cfs from both rivers.

The order came after the MVID filed an inch-thick response to a notice of violation that the DOE filed last December, which claimed that inefficient irrigation practices were polluting the Twisp and Methow rivers by contributing to low instream flows.

MVID attorney Richard Price wrote in the districtís appeal of the DOE order that the order was an attempt to subvert the interagency-facilitated negotiations that had been going on and was issued "specifically to coerce the district to enter into a specific rehabilitation program..."

Price pointed out that the order was issued two days before an anticipated meeting with various agencies that would put the finishing touches on a rehabilitation agreement.

The appeal will be heard by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Bob Barwin, who is handling the MVID case for Ecology, was not available for comment.

Joye Redfield-Wilder of DOE said the order limiting diversions remains in effect during the appeal, which she said could take as long as a matter of months.

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