Council ties up water intertie

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

The members of the City Council have once again turned back a proposal by Mayor Bob Young and his staff for a third emergency intertie with Tacoma Water that would serve the Falling Water development.

A resolution authorizing two interties that already exist and are functioning were sent on to the next council meeting during the Sept. 21 workshop and will likely be approved.

The third proposed intertie is the stickler that has raised hackles on both sides.

Located near the Victor Falls Elementary School at the northeast corner of Falling Water Boulevard East and Rhodes Lake Road East, the intertie would help Falling Water in case of pump failure during an emergency.

Young and the newly hired Public Works Director Daniel Grigsby, argued the connection is with Tacoma Water, not Falling Water.

"I think it is too bad we can't be a good neighbor with Tacoma Water," Young said. "Some of the City Council members are being short sighted with Tacoma Water. Falling Water is going to be built anyway. I think some of the council members are allowing their feeling about Falling Water to cloud their judgment."

Tacoma Water will supply the 1000 homes in the development which is beginning construction.

Bonney Lake is in negotiations with Tacoma Water to serve the east side of the city's service area, Snag Island, Tapps Island and Lakeland Hills.

Deputy Mayor Swatman stated the intertie is both an issue of value and principle.

"They (Tacoma Water) want Bonney Lake to be a water tank for Falling Water in case their pump fails during an emergency," Swatman said. "That would be the first automatic valve in the city, all the rest are manual. We aren't getting properly compensated. We want the developers to pay for the cost of development. We need something appropriate to the cost Falling Water is avoiding by not building a water tank. And I don't see how Tacoma Water cares what Falling Water has to pay. Falling Water has to be a small part of Tacoma Water's district."

Grigsby and Young stated the three intertie agreements would improve the city's credibility with Tacoma Water when negotiating a wholesale price for the water Bonney Lake will need to provide for its service area.

The mayor said the city has an adequate water supply for city residents, except during extended hot weather during the summer.

Bonney Lake turned the emergency intertie on with Tacoma Water during July heat wave.

Councilman Neil Johnson feels the issue is Falling Water, not Tacoma Water.

"I don't want to support a development that shouldn't be there," Johnson said. "I want to protest the fact they are building on our water recharge area."

During the workshop, Councilman Mark Hamilton pointed out there could be consequences if the council stonewalls the intertie.

"My concern is we will paying for this down the road," Hamilton said. "Paybacks come back sometimes."

Dennis Box can be reached at

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