Deal could mark beginning of new regional water supply
by Jeff Switzer
The Woodinville Water District, the Northshore Utility District, and the City of Everett struck a deal on Dec. 20 which in 10 years could relieve the area from relying on Seattle Water, its rate increases, and the threat of a year 2012 cutoff for the 27 purveyors.
Pending Department of Ecology approval, Woodinville, Northshore, and Everett have formed the Snohomish River Regional Water Authority with the intention of purchasing water rights for 36 million gallons per day from Weyerhaeuser for $1.3 million.
Woodinville's average daily demand is four million gallons per day, peaking at 11.6 MGD in the summer. The agreement will supply Woodinville with 11 MGD.
"This is truly an historic event and a good example of regional cooperation," said Kinnon Williams, president of the Board of Commissioners of the Northshore Utility District. "We have to credit the tenacity of Commissioners Don Ellis and Bruce Gardiner, who spearheaded the effort."
"It has been a life-long dream!" Ellis added. "The purchase of this supply source is one of the best investments the district has ever made."
Northshore's share is 10 MGD, and the City of Everett will get 15 MGD. While this will cost $143 million to build a pipeline and plant by 2006 and hinges on DOE approval, that agency has been positive in supporting the concept.
"The whole concept of a regional organization is a positive note," said Bob Bandarra, general manager of the Woodinville Water District. "It's a regional perspective for the common good: They like that concept so that's a plus for us."
The proposal would have a direct draw off the Snohomish River. The DOE may complete their review as soon as the end of 1997 or early 1998.
The three agencies had to move quickly on the water rights, as there is a five-year statute for a transfer and Weyerhaeuser had not exercised those rights since Dec. 1991. The Weyerhaeuser property is actually being purchased by Snohomish River Pulp partnership, but they have no interest in operating a water treatment plant.
According to the Northshore Utility District, which serves the Bothell and Kenmore areas, "an alternate supply source has long been the Holy Grail for many king County water purveyors who buy from Seattle."
"In the long run, the unit cost of the Weyerhaeuser water will be less than what we must pay Seattle," said Don Ellis, who will serve on the board for the Snohomish River Regional Water Authority.
Other board members include Mayor Ed Hansen (Everett) and Ken Goodwin from Woodinville. Goodwin described the proposal as "wonderful."
"It will provide the residents of Woodinville with a supply of water for decades to come at a reasonable rate," he said. There will be less reliance on Seattle and more water for those who need it, he said.