Northwest NEWS

October 11, 1999


Guest Editorial

Decisions made today will affect generations to come

by Maureen Jewitt

   As an elected official of the Woodinville Water District, I believe it is critical for ratepayers to understand the current state of water delivery here in Woodinville and the Greater Seattle area.

   The Woodinville Water District stands in the center of a very complex set of issues and is leading the industry in developing solutions. The Woodinville Water District delivers water to you that we purchase from the Seattle Public Utilities under a contract dating back to 1982.

   This contract expires on December 31, 2012. That contract, even with amendments, never anticipated or made allowances for the population growth and environmental issues of today. The current Seattle contract allows Seattle to set all of the terms of the sale of water, including costs and the responsibility for developing new water supply sources.

   The terms are: Seattle sets costs and Woodinville pays. The Seattle contract does not utilize a collaborative effort and Seattle does not take an inclusive approach to water resource management.

   With factors such as the Endangered Species Act listing of the Chinook salmon, unprecedented urban growth, multiple layers of government agencies, and fragmented task forces addressing parts of the problem, I think it is now time to have a cohesive and representative regional approach to water resource management. This effort must encompass matching supply and demand, balance the water needs of people, fish, agriculture, and industry throughout a multi-water-basin region.

   For the past three years there has been an attempt to design and form a regional organization, the Cascade Water Alliance (CWA), which approaches water as a regional issue with representative voting powers retained by all members. I am Woodinville's representative to this group.

   There are complex issues facing the formation of this alliance. Some issues are: the cost of new water sources, fiscal equality among members, planning for shared water shortages, compensation for resources already in existence, and questions on the governance model being used. Woodinville is trying to work through these issues in an attempt to match water demands with availability at a reasonable cost.

   There are many ways for ratepayers to influence the choices made while we work towards resolution of these issues. I urge each customer of the Woodinville Water District to become informed of the issues, contact local and state officials, and change your water use practices.

   I am interested in hearing from you on the direction and role we are taking. Our contract with Seattle expires in 12 years, and the decisions we make today will impact generations to come. Please give me a call at 483-9104, ext. 400, and let me know what you think.

Maureen Jewitt is the president of the Board of Commissioners for Woodinville Water District.