Buckley among four to ink pact for water supply

Buckley City Council members approved a regional partnership agreement Jan. 26, joining Auburn, Bonney Lake and Sumner in signing a pact with the Cascade Water Alliance that will ensure the cities can meet their water needs during the next 50 years.

The agreement is the result of regional collaboration following Cascade’s purchase of Lake Tapps from Puget Sound Energy for a future municipal water supply. Terms of the deal between Cascade and PSE were finalized in December.

Leaders from the four cities met with each other and with Cascade while the sale was being negotiated, concerned that drainage from Lake Tapps would affect the water supplies of the surrounding communities.

Under the agreement, Cascade will leave water in the White River that will be available for the four cities to use when they apply for a water right for the state Department of Ecology. If their water rights are approved, the cities are assured water will be available if and when it is needed. In addition, the cities will work with Cascade to portion some of their existing water supply now provided by Tacoma Public Utilities.

As part of the deal, a nonvoting entity, the Lake Tapps Municipal Advisory Group, will be created to discuss Lake Tapps water issues that may affect the four cities. The group will be comprised of mayors from the four cities and three representatives from Cascade.

Before council members passed the vote, Mayor Pat Johnson, City Administrator Dave Schmidt and attorney Kathy Callison entered into an executive session to discuss potential litigation.

“The executive session concerned the out-of-basin transfer of water from the White River and the legal options surrounding an appeal or challenge,” Schmidt said. “The discussion and subsequent approval of the agreement between the four cities and Cascade after the session significantly reduces the possibility of litigation.”

Johnson addressed concerns over the deal with her own philosophy.

“We’ve come a long way from getting nothing to something,” she said. “Whether it’s fair or good in the long run, none of us can tell because we don’t have a crystal ball.”

In other action, the council:

• was updated by Johnson, who spoke of her efforts in Olympia to support Rainier School in Olympia. She urged council members to meet with or write to legislators. Even 10 minutes would be considered a long meeting, she said.

• heard a progress report from Chad McCorkle of the Planning Commission on the plan for Buckley’s future street maps.

• approved a request to stage the 2010 Buckley Relay For Life May 14 and 15.

• unanimously reinstated the installation of 125 feet of service for natural gas customers at no charge. The ordinance also allows customers reinstating service to have their one time turn-on charge placed on their bill.

• unanimously approved a resolution recognizing The Enumclaw Courier-Herald as Buckley’s official newspaper.

• nominated Jeff Hogan of the city of Edgewood to the Pierce County Regional Council’s Zoo/Trek Authority Board.

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