Letter to the Editor

Sequim Gazette


Art Black



The Nanny State all-powerful Department of Ecology is playing loose with the facts to gain control of all water rights in the Dungeness watershed including private wells, and force everyone onto public systems. 


They can only do that by arguing a water shortage.  Because of that they have launched a righteous misinformation campaign. 

They note the minimal rainfall for the driest area and the reduced summer Dungeness flow, but not the total underground flow. 


The Dungeness River watershed contains a 200 square mile mountainous region that drains into a 65 square mile coastal region.  Moving south in the coastal area annual rainfall increases from 16 inches to 30, and increases rapidly up to in excess of 100 inches per year in the mountains.  Roughly 400 billion gallons of water collects annually.  Of that, only 90 billion, or 22%, flows through the Dungeness River.  The rest enters the ground and feeds the underlying aquifer. 


Conservatively assuming 50 billion gallons available for well withdrawal without aquifer depletion, over 300,000 households can be served.  What is not withdrawn flows into the Strait and is lost as fresh water. 


To take control, they have to argue that well withdrawals deplete the Dungeness.  They argue “hydrological continuity” between the river and the aquifer.  Then they argue that every teaspoon pumped lowers the river water level.  That’s ludicrous.  They have not proved that well withdrawals impact river levels.  They can’t.  They’ve already tried.  It’s just not true. 


Nonetheless, they intend to eliminate private wells, “saving” water for salmon and developers, and forcing residents onto public water systems where they will have to pay for water. 


The extent of their bureaucratic lunacy does not end there.  They would propose a 30 mile pipeline from the Elwha river to Sequim.  Guess who gets to pay. 


The irony is the Dungeness Valley is perfect.  Water is plentiful for small private unchlorinated, unflouridated wells, the best in the world, but unavailable for larger developments unless someone builds a reservoir or pipeline at taxpayer and ratepayer expense.  Bah humbug.  So what if the tribe needs more water to develop their 1,000 acre Miller Peninsula holdings.  Let the Department of Ecology, the tribe, and developers drink dirt. 


For more complete coverage go to usphoenix.net and read “A Fish Story” and “The Fishy Water Crisis Is All Wet”. 


Art Black, Sequim