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Grandview seeks water rights changes

GRANDVIEW - The Grandview City Council opted to move forward with applying for changes to the city's existing water rights, which, if successful, will allow the city greater flexibility in operating the water system and also create the potential to add additional wells in the future.

The requested changes would inter-tie the wells with each other. It would take an existing well and allow for that well to draw under the exising water rights of another well. For example, the well at Butternut could withdraw water under the water rights of a well located at S. Willoughby or Velma.

If approved by the Department of Ecology, this would allow the city to essentially pump any rate and annual volume for one or any combination of wells up to the combined water rights total of that particular aquifer.

The city currently has 10 active wells and draws water from two aquifers.

According to City Engineer Jeff Louman, the goal is to maximize utilizing each well to its full potential, which isn't being done.

Louman warned the council that the process of applying for the changes is a slow one. "If it's quick, it could take a year. It could take longer due to the complexities of it," he said.

Right now, Louman explained to council, there is legislation in place that protects a municipality that has water rights that aren't used over a five-year period. As long as the water system is in good standing, it's not subject to relinquishment. In the past, water rights not used or not used to the full extent in a five-year period had to be relinquished.

But, warned Louman, that legislation is currently being challenged right now. He recommended that the city move forward with its plans at this time.

He also warned council about costs associated with the process. "This is a $10,000 to $20,000 effort and can be far more expensive if there are any difficulties."

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