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Posted on: February 22, 2021

Water Questions Answered

water drop (1)

What are the City’s Water Sources?  

The City of North Bend currently has 3 water sources. There are two production water sources, which are:  1) Mt Si Springs, a spring-fed water source near Mount Si; and  2) Centennial Well, which is a groundwater well located at the City’s Public Works facility. Centennial is the newer of the city’s two water sources.  The third water source is solely for mitigation water use and it’s called Hobo Springs

Does the City Have Adequate Potable Water Supply? 

Yes, the City has 3,430-acre feet of water rights. The City uses only approximately 650-acre feet of water per year and has adequate potable water supply to reach full build out based on current zoning.

What is Mitigation Water? 

Due to Centennial Well’s location in the area of influence of both the Middle and South Forks of the Snoqualmie River, water used from the well is required to be compensated  drop-for-drop by other sources into the River only at times when the Main Fork Snoqualmie River is below the ‘Base In-stream Flow’ as defined by the City’s Centennial water right agreement.  In-stream river flows are measured at three different points along the Snoqualmie River near Fall City, Carnation, and Monroe.  When the in-stream flow is below the Department of Ecology’s level determined necessary to maintain River health, then the City is required to add mitigation water to Snoqualmie River. Mitigation is typically needed approximately 80 days per year.

Does the City Have Adequate Mitigation Water Supply?  

For now, yes.  This includes the current population of City water customers and for all currently planned projects inside the City’s Water Service Area over the next 5 years. When the City is ready to permit new commercial or residential projects beyond this capacity, such as the proposed Army National Guard Readiness Center, the City must first secure an additional mitigation water source to serve those new customers

What are the City’s Mitigation Water Sources? 

Hobo Springs is the City’s active mitigation source and has met the City’s mitigation needs  for the full 13 years of the requirement to date.   The City purchases Hobo Springs mitigation water from Seattle Public Utilities.  Hobo Springs is located near Rattlesnake Lake in the protected Cedar River Watershed. Mitigation Water is delivered via pipe from Hobo Springs to Boxley Creek which feeds into the South Fork Snoqualmie River.  

What other mitigation sources is the City studying? 

City staff are evaluating a number of potential water mitigation sources including the Cascade property, a Hobo Springs Expansion, a Hobo Springs Bypass, building small and/or large mitigation water reservoirs, and a potential inter-tie agreement with Sallal, among othersCurrently the city is in the SEPA process to convert the irrigation water right at the former Cascade Golf Course into a mitigation water right. The City hopes to have that mitigation source in place in 2022.  

Can the Sallal Water Association be the City’s secondary, backup mitigation source as is described in the Centennial Well permit?

Yes. The City and Sallal have discussed a water supply agreement under which Sallal would serve as a mitigation water source for the City, and the City would sell water to Sallal from the Centennial Well to meet Sallal’s needs.  While past negotiations have not resulted in a contract, discussions are ongoing with Sallal on the potential to reach an agreement  that serves the interests of the City and of the Association.

Do other Cities in the Snoqualmie Valley have to mitigate water? 

No.  North Bend’s Centennial Well Water Right permit was issued after water rights laws changed, including minimum in-stream flow levels that were established on the Snoqualmie River. Older water rights – even though those water sources impact the River– do not have to supply mitigation water like the City of North Bend does.

Why is a Water Conservation Ordinance (WCO) needed? 

First and foremost, water conservation is the right thing to do for the environment.  The City of North Bend’s peak water usage during late summer/early fall coincides with low flows in the river and the City’s Mt Si Springs water source, which means Centennial Well is needed more often during these dry months. By decreasing water usage during this peak time, less mitigation water is needed for the Snoqualmie River -  which protects the River’s natural health and saves customers money on their bills.

Does the City actively enforce the WCO? 

The WCO starts with education and voluntary compliance with the usage guidelines. This includes the automatic stage 1 conservation measures which  go into effect beginning each year on August 15th.  The WCO is foremost an educational tool, and the City is a proponent of educating residents on water conservation. However, if water usage that violates the WCO is noticed and/or reported, violators can expect to hear from the City.  

How does the WCO impact my home in the event of a wildfire? 

According to fire experts, in the event a wildfire impacts our area, landscape watering is unlikely to protect existing structures.  Surrounding forests would be the fuel that bring the fire close to nearby homes and other structures. The most important ways to prevent wildfires from spreading to your home is to make sure vegetation is not planted close to your home’s perimeter and that you do not have a cedar shake roof.

If the City did not have to mitigate water, would there be a WCO? 

Yes, because the City believes that water conservation is the right thing to do.  In fact, the City hopes more cities in the Puget Sound region follow North Bend’s   lead in water conservation. We are pleased to see the City’s overall water usage decline since enacting the WCO last spring and actively engaging in water conservation education with residents.

Why is the City issuing housing permits – and growing so fast - if there is a water shortage? 

The City only issues building permits to projects that have water and sewer available to serve them. Concurrency certificates, the assurance to a property owner that services will be provided, are issued only if water and sewer capacity is available. Most often, concurrency of water and sewer availability is issued years before any land is cleared and foundations are poured. Essentially – homes you see being built today reserved their water and sewer capacity years earlier.  Although many new homes have been built in the City during in the past few years, when measured over the decades long planning horizon, the city’s population has only grown at an annual rate of approximately 2% during that time.  Many nearby cities – including Sammamish, Issaquah, and Snoqualmie – have grown at a much faster pace.  Most importantly, our City Council is actively working to maintain North Bend’s character as a highly livable, small mountain town.

Why is there not a building moratorium in North Bend?

North Bend property owners have the constitutional right to develop their property as long as all legal zoning and development requirements are followed.  The City is also legally required to provide water to those properties if it is available – e.g. the City has a legal ‘duty to serve.’  North Bend is a beautiful place to live, which makes land desirable for new homes and businesses. Nearly everyone residing in North Bend lives in a home that was once forested or farmland.


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