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Right vote on moratorium

Editorial for March 4, 2010

The White Salmon City Council did the right thing recently in extending the local moratorium on new water connections.

Make no mistake: No one likes the moratorium, because the community needs water to grow. Because of the ongoing inability to hook up to the city's water system, houses cannot be built and businesses cannot flourish. But the moratorium is part of the overall administrative process that is necessary until water is finally available.

Approving a new water moratorium seems like a demoralizing setback at first glance, but keep an old saying in mind: "The darkest hour is right before the dawn."

The six-month water moratorium passed by the council on Feb. 17 is largely a formality: No new water hookups were being issued anyway, because the city needs additional water rights before it can do so.

It's important to remember that although the moratorium is technically for six months, the City Council can vote to end the moratorium at any time. Once everything is in place, that vote will take place and there is no doubt that the council will emphatically vote "Yes!" to end the moratorium.

Here's what City Council member Bob Landgren had to say after the vote: "The moratorium doesn't benefit the city. We want it to go away as soon as possible," he rightly said.

That appears to be the dominant feeling of all the council members.

The good news is, it looks like we're truly at the end of this long water shortage tunnel the community has been slogging through. By all accounts, sometime this spring the city will finally be able to lift the ban on issuing new water connections. That's because the new water filtration plant on Buck Creek is completed and ready to provide water, and because new water rights are being negotiated. Those involved in the negotiating processes believe it's just a matter of days or weeks to finalize the deals.

A lot of people -- from the state of Washington, Klickitat County, the city of White Salmon, and others -- have been working diligently on this process, and their work is coming to a successful conclusion.

It's gone on for so long that many people may find it hard to believe the end is in sight. Those who are concerned that businesses won't locate here because of the water issues, or that Insitu won't stay here for the same reason, have reason to be optimistic, so just hang in there for a few more weeks.

The bottom line is, it looks like -- finally -- the moratorium will be lifted soon, and won't be returning.



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