By JESSE BURKHARDT
Following a Sept. 3 meeting with representatives from several agencies, city officials are expressing renewed optimism that a fix for the city of White Salmon's water shortage will soon be resolved.
"I couldn't have written a better scenario," said White Salmon Mayor David Poucher after last week's meeting. "The bottom line -- we now have a timeline. A critical goal is to have a temporary water right that will coincide with Buck Creek coming on line."
In attendance at the meeting, held at the White Salmon Fire Hall, were representatives from Gov. Christine Gregoire's office, the Washington Department of Health, Department of Ecology, Public Utility District, the Klickitat County Health Department.
White Salmon city attorney Ken Woodrich said he was surprised at the high-level people who came to White Salmon to help the city resolve its water supply/source issues.
"Looking at the representation at that meeting, it was really impressive," Woodrich said.
In the wake of the meeting, Poucher said the city anticipated that sometime after first quarter of 2010, all the outstanding water issues facing the city would get resolved.
"In March 2010, they are thinking we could see a partial lifting of the water moratorium, if everything falls into place," Poucher said.
"That's probably the most optimistic, and it's pretty realistic," added Woodrich. "The most critical step is securing a lease for water from the PUD. It was a very positive meeting. The assistance from the state is just phenomenal."
Woodrich added that the state's Department of Health does not want the city to end moratorium on new water hookups all at once, but incrementally.
"It's important for citizens to know that when the moratorium is lifted, they don't want the floodgates to open, they want it to trickle in." Woodrich explained. "And when they release water meters, they want it tied to a building permit. They said they will not support someone placing meters on a lot for future building."
Poucher also pointed out that when the moratorium is lifted, fees for new water connections would increase. City officials were not yet sure of the amount of the increase.
"New users will pay for the cost of being on the system," Poucher explained. "There will have to be a lot of calculations to determine what's fair."