Events moved quickly about the fight between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water District.
KING5 TV had a report on its 5:30 pm news May 6 about the water war between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District.
Most revealing was Gary Chittim’s summary in the video: “Supporters say it’s a good, cheap way to treat water and get rid of storm runoff.”
Except Issaquah hasn’t chosen the “cheap” way. It chose a $1.5 million option that has already run up huge legal bills for Issaquah and the water district, with more to come if the state Department of Ecology grants the infiltration permit, as it is gearing up to do.
The Water District three times offered to co-fund a water infiltration system to protect the aquifer, but Issaquah refused each offer. Instead it has moved toward a hostile takeover of part of the District.
The Seattle Times has this news story about the Issaquah plan and the Water District’s effort to protect the aquifer. Within the article, Issaquah Ava Frisinger and Ecology said they are “anxious” to end dumping polluted storm water into Issaquah Creek.
If Issaquah had agreed with the Water District’s plan to treat the water, this wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. I’ve added numbers to the paragraphs for some reaction below.
Meantime, Issaquah issued a non-response response to the Water District’s highly detailed information provided to the media.
Here’s a press release from Issaquah:
Water Quality: City is Dedicated to Protecting Aquifer
- The Washington State Department of Ecology is currently considering a permit that would allow the City of Issaquah to use an underground system to return stormwater to the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer.
- The aquifer is a vital source of drinking water for the citizens of Issaquah and Sammamish.
- “We all drink from the same glass, the citizens of Issaquah and Sammamish,” Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said. “The City of Issaquah has always prided itself on providing quality water, and we have a long track record of protecting our aquifer.”
- The underground system, called the Lower Reid Infiltration Gallery, also helps to minimize flooding impacts on the North Fork of Issaquah Creek and ensures that wetlands receive the water they need to survive.
- In 2009, the City of Issaquah and Department of Ecology reached an agreement to monitor stormwater in the gallery. That monitoring showed that the water, under certain conditions, can be discharged into the ground.
- The City of Issaquah then applied for the ecology permit.
- Currently, the Washington State Department of Ecology is reviewing the data associated with the permit application. If the department issues a draft permit, the draft would be available for public comment and review.
- Infiltrating stormwater into the ground is a major requirement under the latest federal standards for addressing environmental pollution.
Here are some thoughts:
2. Yes, it is drinking water for most of Sammamish and parts of Issaquah–as well as large swaths of unincorporated King County, including Klahanie–54,000 residents in all. And only a small part of this is within Issaquah. The City Council is taking action to affect the drinking water of tens of thousands of residents who have no recourse to the officials in Issaquah who have already assaulted the aquifer once–and who are making a second attack.
3. Oh, really? Issaquah opposed shutting down the LRIG in 2008 and the Water District had to take legal action to protect the aquifer then. In fact, Issaquah was pretty obnoxious about the Water District’s drive to protect the aquifer.
4. Issaquah has been diverting storm water to Issaquah Creek since the 2008 shut down of LRIG, allowing untreated storm water to flow into Lake Sammamish–a highly sensitive lake, environmentally. Lake Sammamish flows into Lake Washington, which flows into Lake Union which flows into Puget Sound. Studies indicate that 40% of the pollution for the entire Puget Sound water system comes from polluted storm water run off.
Homeowners along Lake Sammamish are faced with the prospect of having polluted waters which affect recreational use–and home values.
The answer is to properly treat the storm water before it infiltrates into the ground–something the Water District has offered to co-fund, three times, and which Issaquah has rejected each time.
Ecology is expected to issue its draft permit within weeks. The City of Sammamish needs to weigh in on behalf of its citizens, both with Issaquah and with Ecology, to stop this and demand that Issaquah work with the Water District to properly infiltrate the storm water.
Contact Sammamish City Council:
and City Manager Ben Yacizi:
Contact Issaquah City Council:
Contact Department of Ecology: