Cities pursue more water rights
Lacey, Olympia and Yelm seek to buy individual rights
“Three Thurston County cities soon could seek to buy water rights from dozens of individuals to serve their growing communities – although officials don’t plan to use the rights for drinking water.
Lacey, Olympia and Yelm would place the water rights they acquire in the Deschutes River basin into trust; in other words, stop their active use. By making more water available for the river’s flow from those rights, the cities then can subtract the same volume of water to serve its communities with no net effect, according to their proposal. The cities the would pump that volume of water from new wells.
On Thursday [July 24], the Lacey City Council signed an agreement to hire a consultant to negotiate the purchase of the water rights. The vote, preceded by little discussion, was 5-0. Council members Virgil Clarkson and Tom Nelson were absent.
Olympia and Yelm will take action on the agreement soon.
Last year, the cities agreed to hire a consultant, WestWater Research of Vancouver, Wash., to identify water rights in the river basin that could be used for mitigation. About 50 water rights were identified, said Peter Brooks, Lacey’s water resources manager.
The cost of the new contract to negiotate any purchases will be split between the three cities and not exceed a total of $80,000, according to the agreement. The cost of the contract with WestWater was unavailable.
The cities have pending requests for new water rights before the state Department of Ecology that modeling shows would reduce the stream flow of the Deschutes River. Ecology requires the cities mitigate the effect to secure those new rights” quoting The Olympian.
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