Bonney Lake buys land in hopes of striking water

The Bonney Lake City Council on April 13 approved the purchase of a 20-acre site in the hopes it will provide an additional water resource in the future.

The Reed Farm, just east of the city limits off Connell’s Prairie Road, will cost the city a bit more than $1 million, paid from the water fund, which has an estimated balance of $13 million.

The city considered purchasing the property in 2003, but ultimately decided the water right was not “perfected,” according to City Administrator Don Morrison.

“Back then it didn’t seem like there was enough production,” Morrison said.

But the agreement signed recently with the Cascade Water Alliance gives the city an opportunity to obtain a new water right in the area.

“The well, to exercise that right, has to be in the White River Basin,” he said.

Morrison said the property contains a productive well and the city believes there is additional water that can be unearthed.

“We know there’s water there,” he said, calling the property an investment.

Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said a new water right in the city could lead to reduced water rates in the future because of a lessened dependence on outside sources, like Tacoma Water.

“This gives the city yet another water source in this area, possibly,” he said, calling it an “outstanding investment.”

In addition to the possibility of a new water right, Morrison said the price on the land dropped from $1.4 million in 2003, making now an “opportune time” to purchase the property.

“Seven years later, the price has dropped $400,000,” he said.

Along with the potential for water, Morrison said the property can be used by the city for other purposes, such as parks, trails, historical markers and other uses such as storage for public works vehicles or the new police boat.

A fire station is even possible on the land, which is zoned RSV5 in the county, a zoning that allows public facilities as well as water supply facilities and residences at one unit per five acres.

“Even if there’s not a well, over time it will recoup all its investment and then some,” Morrison said.

“It’s going to open up a lot of opportunities,” Mayor Neil Johnson agreed, but added, “But we bought it for water.

“It makes a lot of sense,” Johnson said. “It will benefit the city for years to come.”