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Ws Gets Long-Awaited Water Rights Deal

From PUD

The city of White Salmon and the Klickitat Public Utility District have inked a deal that will provide White Salmon with 500 acre-feet of new water rights.

Jim Smith, general manager of the PUD, came to last week's White Salmon City Council meeting to advise the council members that the deal had been virtually finalized.

Smith explained that it still needed to be formally approved by the PUD's board, but he added that he expected that to be a formally, as the board members were aware of the water deal and supportive of it.

"It's our proposal to you guys," Smith said.

White Salmon's attorney, Ken Woodrich, said the proposal looked solid to him.

"I've reviewed the form of the agreement. This one meets all the requirements I had. It's very well drafted and very reasonable," Woodrich said.

The Water Service Agreement commits the PUD to provide a supply of water to White Salmon "for the quantities necessary to meet the requirements of the city not to exceed 1,800 gallons per minute and 500 acre-feet per year."

The city's cost for the new water supply will be $100 for each acre-foot of water used, payable to the PUD.

Poucher said that deal was very fair.

"We will pay for the water we obtain, but will pay for it at a very reasonable given rate," he said.

The water comes from an excess water right owned by the PUD. It authorizes a diversion from the Columbia River for municipal purposes, and it is a portion of this water right that will be conveyed to White Salmon.

Council member Bob Landgren praised the PUD for allowing White Salmon to obtain the water necessary to finally permit a lifting of the moratorium on new water hookups.

"I think it's wonderful the PUD is helping the city out," Landgren said. "This has been an issue for quite a long time, and the PUD should get an ovation for their efforts on this."

The City Council approved the water service agreement in a 5-0 vote.

"I want to thank the PUD for helping out on this," said Mayor David Poucher.

Woodrich pointed out, however, that the moratorium on new water hookups for customers of White Salmon's water system cannot yet be ended.

"We still need the Washington Department of Ecology OK," Woodrich said. "We may need a few little tweaks, but this is a key step in that process. We're not quite ready to lift the moratorium, but we're getting there."

"I don't know when DOE will approve it, but once they approve it, we'll go ahead and issue water meters," added Poucher.

After the meeting, Poucher said the deal was huge for the city.

"It's a major, major milestone. The PUD will be the purveyor of water -- 500 acre-feet -- not just in a five-year or 10-year lease, but permanently," Poucher explained. "This solves our problem. In essence, we've met in principle what the Department of Ecology wanted us to do. The state always said get a water right. This is what they asked us to do, and now we've done it."

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