Wednesday, October 7, 2009
By JESSE BURKHARDT
With an end to White Salmon's water hookup moratorium anticipated relatively soon, city officials are working to revise a series of ordinances related to water issues.
Part of the impetus behind the flurry of revisions is due to the fact that state agencies want to see changes before issuing new water rights to the city.
"The Washington Department of Health and Department of Ecology told us, if we wanted to get water rights we'd have to change some of our ordinances and codify our water conservation ordinance," explained Mayor David Poucher.
With work on a new water filtration plant speeding toward completion, city officials believe it won't be long until the moratorium of new water hookups can be lifted.
Assuming it is lifted, the city plans to be prepared to handle an expected uptick in applications to be served by the city's water system. The ordinances will help pave the way.
The ordinances under the revision process include one geared to prioritize water connection applications following the moratorium; clarifying minimum monthly rates for water based on volumes used; revising water hookup charges; and creating a water rights acquisition fund.
Poucher pointed out that the ordinance revision process is in its early stages, and there will likely be changes before the full City Council votes on whether to approve them.
"Our objective was to get this out ahead of time -- it's a first draft of the ordinances," Poucher said.
Poucher said the city often works through two or three drafts before there is a vote on an ordinance.
Last Thursday, drafts of several revised ordinances were sent to the City Council members, city department heads, and City Hall staff.
"This is complicated, and has implications for the city. We want to see where we go from here," Poucher said.
The city's attorney, Ken Woodrich, had set Oct. 1 as a tentative date to complete the initial drafts, but explained that there was little need for the ordinances until the water moratorium ends.
"Our intention is that these will not become effective until we have a lifting or partial lifting of the moratorium and we can issue more water meters," Woodrich said. "I will need to send drafts on to DOE and DOH once we have them ready to submit."
No date has yet been scheduled for the City Council to vote on final drafts of the proposed water ordinances.