Tribal leader tries to drum up federal funding for water pipeline

The (Everett) Herald has a story today about efforts to build a pipeline to pump 36 million gallons of water each day to the Tulalip Indian Reservation:

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon were among a group that traveled to the nation’s capital recently in an effort to win financial support for the project, which was part of a 2005 legal settlement that forged a partnership between the two governments.

The pipeline will bring enough water to the 22,000-acre reservation so that residents there will no longer have to rely on the aquifer that lies beneath them, Sheldon said.

The aquifer’s water level drops as much as 50 feet each year, he said. When that happens, the well water used by most of the reservation becomes increasingly clouded by sediment.

As the reservation’s population grows, more people are tapping into the aquifer with wells that are too small to require a water right.

Tribal membership, now at more than 3,600 people, is expected to double by 2020, Sheldon said.

The Tulalip Tribes purchase less than 1 million gallons each day from the city of Marysville, which is used in a neighborhood that borders I-5, said Doug Buell, Marysville’s city spokesman.

The rest of the reservation relies on groundwater, according to a 2004 U.S. Geological Survey report.