Squaxin Island Tribe taking Lacey to task over water mitigation

On Monday, the Olympia published an editorial praising the city of Lacey for an innovative and cooperative solution to a water rights issue in the Deschutes River watershed.

Problem is the solution to the problem might not be legal, might not be good for fish and the Squaxin Island Tribe (a natural resources co-manager) doesn’t think its a good idea in the first place.

From the tribe’s natural resources blog:

Water in the State of Washington has a very few actual owners. When we talk about water rights, we are talking about permission to use water, essentially to borrow it for a time. Water rights are not a conveyance of ownership. The only owners in Washington are the federal government, based on their reserved ownership from before Washington was a state, the state based on what they were granted from the federal government, and the Tribes, the original owners who reserved water rights in the treaties. In other words, the original owners never gave up their interest. Everyone else seeks permission through water rights to use water. Lacey falls into this category.

Lacey is working with other municipalities to gain access to more water to fuel more growth of housing developments and shopping centers that identify the trademark feel of the Lacey environment. They know that water is limited as they have been under a moratorium for new hookups in the urban growth area. One would think they would be sensitive to the issues and the other players that they must navigate if they are going to continue their unsustainable growth. Yet they have continued to act preemptively and without an accurate presentation of the facts.

All of the streams and the Deschutes River in WRIA 13 are closed to further consumptive appropriation. This includes diversion of surface water and it also includes the withdrawal of groundwater that would impact the surface water flows of these streams.

The tribe already has two posts up on their blog about the budding controversy, with more to follow.