ARE YOU AWARE THE CITY OF YELM HAS EMBARKED ON CONDEMNING A CITIZEN’S WATER RIGHTS TO OBTAIN WATER IN SUPPORT OF THE CITY’S WATER SYSTEM PLAN?
In a letter dated October 26, 2009, Mayor Ron Harding wrote private citizen Alice McMonigle to condemn her water rights. Mr. Harding stated that the city intends to acquire those rights “through the exercise of power under eminent domain for the purpose of providing municipal water for the City Water System.”
The Yelm Community Blog has obtained that letter and received permission to publish the document, so all of the area’s citizens can read for themselves the Mayor’s intent and city’s notice:
CLICK HERE for the City of Yelm’s “Notice of Pending Exercise of Eminent Domain Authority”.
ARE YOUR WATER RIGHTS SAFE?
A chronology of Yelm’s recent water actions:
1. On June 12, 2009, the City of Yelm posted on their website and finally made public their long-awaited Draft Water System Plan [then click “Utilities & Streets”, then “Water Plan Update”], which garnered many negative comments submitted by area residents.
2. On July 20, 2009 and as previously reported here,
Dept. of Ecology commented on the McMonigle water right & REVERSED the decision of the Thurston County Conservancy Board and specified exactly why they took that action in a letter to City of Yelm Administrator Badger where they state,
“The board (conservancy board) failed to adequately analyze the extent and validity of the subject water right [the McMonigle water right]. Ecology’s records include a consultant report from 2005 that analyzed recent power records that indicate significantly less water for change.” CLICK HERE to see Ecology’s letter in full.
3. On August 14, 2009, the City of Yelm announced the withdrawal of their Mitigated Determination of Non-significance (MDNS) dated May 1, 2009 regarding the Yelms application to the Washington State Department of Ecology [DOE] for additional water rights, because the DOE said no action would be taken on Yelms applications for additional water rights in 2009.
4. Then, October 20, 2009, the City of Yelm received a letter from the Washington State Dept. of Health making two comments about Yelm’s Water System Plan (WSP):
A. “If there is not adequate [“source, storage, and distribution”] capacity for the [next] six-year planning period, then ODW [Office of Drinking Water] will not grant an unspecified approval. The approval will be based on the existing capacity and limiting growth factor.
B. The Thurston County Conservancy Board approval for the transfer of the McMonigle water right was denied by the Department of Ecology (Ecology). This denial means the McMonigle water right is not available to the City as expected when preparing the WSP… Since the McMonigle water right was counted toward the current total water right portfolio, the information in the WSP prepared based on this assumption must be corrected.”
– The City of Yelm Water System Plan will not be approved by the State if the city cannot meet adequate water capacity, as outlined in the plan for the next 6-year planning period. State approval would then only be based on Yelm’s existing capacity.
– The City of Yelm must remove the McMonigle water right (their acre feet per year) from their capacity calculations in the WSP, as the city cannot count/include water rights previously rejected by Ecology.
CLICK HERE for the full Dept. of Health comments on the City of Yelm Water System Plan.
5. Finally, this week on October 26, 2009, Mayor Ron Harding wrote a letter to private citizen Alice McMonigle to condemn her water rights with the city’s intent to acquire those rights through eminent domain. The Yelm City Council will consider authorizing this condemnation at their November 10th meeting. The October 20th letter the city received from the Dept. of Health relates to this action and the city’s exercise of eminent domain to acquire water rights.
Ed. Note: This is a wake-up call for all of the citizens of the Yelm area & in addition to the water rate increase, this aggressive behavior now characterizes the city’s relationship with local citizens on a totally new level!
THIS RAISES SEVERAL ISSUES FOR OUR LOCAL CITIZENRY TO PONDER:
1. How would you feel if the City of Yelm condemned your water rights through eminent domain?
2. What are your thoughts about the City of Yelm taking this step to condemn a local citizen’s water rights?
3. Yelm City Council candidate Jen Littlefield told the Yelm Community Blog in July,
“Water rights have historically been the limiting factor of growth for both agricultural and urban sectors. He who controls the water controls the ability of an area to grow. The city should continue to seek water rights and the infrastructure to provide safe and clean drinking water to its citizens. That is within the citys scope of responsibility.”
What are Mrs. Littlefield’s views now about the city’s actions with the Council set to consider condemning a private citizen’s water rights? The Yelm Community Blog contacted Mrs. Littlefield & is awaiting her response.
UPDATE: Oct. 31
Mrs. Littlefield responded she had a family emergency & is not in a position to respond at this time.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS?