IN-DEPTH, INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
The omissions from the Mayor, City Hall, in a Letter to the Editor from a local pastor & lack of in-depth coverage from the local newspaper have kept the public from having the full facts about Yelm’s water issue & how the city has worked against protecting the their interests.
The public records are all here & easily accessible for the newspaper to verify & report.
Yes, this is a long AND yet simple list of Yelm’s water actions below, only to prove a point; that the city’s water woes are solely at their own creation.
If you read nothing else below, you should be aware of the latest notice the City of Yelm has received, impacting any further water connections to the city’s water system (see # 11 below).
The following facts are not disputed, as they are all supported below by public documents:
1. The City of Yelm over-pumped their Ecology allocated water rights in 2009 (796.66 vs. 810.42 afy = 13.76 acy over).
Doing the math with an acre foot/year (acy) serving 3.5 homes, that means Yelm over-pumped an amount equal to 48 homes (3.5 X 13.76).
CLICK HERE for the details.
CLICK HERE for Ecology’s official word on Yelm’s over-pumping.
2. The City of Yelm has failed to update their 6-year draft Water System Plan (WSP), due in September, 2008, resulting in a Yellow Operating Permit from the Dept. of Health [as stated in Ecology’s letter above].
Yellow means “Adequate for existing uses and new service connections up to the number of approved service connections (see # 11 below) unless otherwise limited by a compliance agreement,” quoting Health’s site.
CLICK HERE for Drinking Water Operating Permit information from the Dept. of Health.
3. The city’s WSP has not been approved by the Depts. of Health or Ecology. Many things have changed since this Plan was released to the public, including yet not limited to the default of Thurston Highlands & Tahoma Terra, meaning this Plan needs to be reworked.
CLICK HERE for Health’s letter to the City of Yelm stating what must be done for Health to approve the plan.
4. The City of Yelm allocated in excess of $550,000 to benefit a private developer, who was supposed to repay their pro-rata share of a water study on their property. That developer defaulted and left the city with over one-half million dollars in unpaid fees & back taxes.
CLICK HERE for the January, 2007 letter from City Administrator Shelly Badger.
Badger said the pro-rata share of the water study will be determined from the Thurston Highlands impact analysis completed during the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and stated as a condition of the Conceptual Master Plan.” There were no provisions in the agreement for reimbursement if the developers defaulted, which happened in September, 2008.
CLICK HERE for the city’s Agreement for Conceptual Master Site Plan with Thurston Highlands.
5. The City of Yelm’s draft Water System Plan proposes to charge city water ratepayers for the costs of financing the 5,000-home Thurston Highlands Master-Planned Community (MPC) water study, water acquisition & installation. If not to support an MPC there, the city would have no need to spend $11.4 million on miles of pipes and other infrastructure and raise water customers’ rates to pay for this when the city already has enough infrastructure to support current and future customers by simply upgrading their existing system.
CLICK HERE for Chapter 8.8 of the city’s draft Water System Plan (WSP) highlighting these expenditures.
6. The Mayor stated the city could condemn Tahoma Terra property to obtain more water and drill a test/production well on this defaulted property. The Yelm City Council authorized $615,000 to drill a well on this land slated for auction.
CLICK HERE for the Staff Report requesting the $615,223.
7. The city proposed a 5-fold increase in water withdrawal from the aquifer.
If the water supply dropped and deeper wells were necessary due to the ridiculous volume of water Yelm proposes to pump, local landowners would have to pay tens of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to drill their wells deeper because the static level in area wells would subsequently drop & their water would turn brackish at their current well depths.
The city’s own engineering report shows proposed city wells in the SW Yelm Well Field (Thurston Highlands, LLC property) will drop area property owners’ wells by 10-23 feet, perhaps more.
CLICK HERE for the city’s Draft WSP.
CLICK HERE for info on the local wells draw down.
8. Developers Bloom & Chamberlain transferred the Tahoma Valley Golf Course water rights to the city. When they defaulted, the city was left with the Golf Course well project, “previously assumed to be fully developer-constructed and then to be turned over to the city, is now required to be 100% City-funded at a cost estimated to be $1.6 million”. That well project is not completed & remains unavailable for use.
CLICK HERE for the aforementioned quote from the City’s Draft Water System Plan, Chapter 9, page 13
9. The Yelm City Council approved an ordinance to cut commercial irrigation by 50% as the city attempts to reduce water consumption to levels within their allocation. Unfortunately, neither Mayor Harding nor the Nisqually Valley News in their front-page story this week shared the reason for this drastic measure – that the city over-pumped their Ecology water allocation in 2009.
Ed. Note: While I am all for conservation, at no time has the reason been mentioned to the public for this action – that the city over-pumped their water allocation.
CLICK HERE for the info on the city’s over-pumping the aquifer.
CLICK HERE for the Staff report on Resolution 509.
10 The Yelm City Council will pass Ordinance 920 tomorrow night which allows the city to gather water rights from decommissioned, private wells within the city limits and take those water rights for the city’s.
CLICK HERE for the Staff Report on Ordinance 920.
11. On April 8, 2010, City Administrator Shelly Badger received a letter from the Dept, of Health stating that on April 23rd, (last Friday) they will set the city’s water system “at capacity”. That means the Office of Drinking Water (ODW) will designate the current number of connections served as being all that will be allowed. Health stated, “The decision is based on the the fact that this system has exceeded its physical source capacity”.
Ed. Note: How would you like to receive a Building Permit from the city only to be told you could not be connected to the city’s water system? What would you do?
CLICK HERE for the Dept. of Health letter to Yelm.
Bottom Line: So, what does this mean?
Regardless of the city’s spin & area leaders’ omissions in addressing their constituents on water issues, the City of Yelm can not add any more hook-ups to the city’s water system. While the city may approve building permits, they can make no further water connections above the April 23rd number.
For now, this limits the city’s ability to draw-down the aquifer, the key point in this issue.
So, to answer this NVN reader’s question,
“Will Steve Klien (sic) finally shut up and sit down?”
Not until the public is provided the truth in a full-reporting of the facts from Mayor Harding, City Hall and religious leaders.
Attempting to make me the issue is a convenient tactic to use to divert attention away from the facts.
[Ed. Note: Even City Administrator Badger failed to give a correct answer in response to a Council member’s question earlier this month that the city owned the land at the Tahoma Terra land at the city’s proposed well site.]