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On June 6, 2023, the North Bend City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing an agreement for the wholesale supply of domestic water to Sallal Water Association and mitigation water to the City of North Bend. This was the second and final reading of this resolution, which came after nearly two decades of work on the part of the City and Sallal.
After City Council’s approval, Mayor McFarland and Sallal Board President Denise Smutny signed the Water Supply Agreement (WSA) in the presence of Council and the Sallal board members in attendance.
With a fully approved and signed WSA, the City and Sallal will be able to meet the water needs of all residents, while also meeting the City’s mitigation requirements for the Snoqualmie River. By sharing water, the two entities help ensure a more reliable water system with guaranteed availability and support future community planning requirements under Washington State’s Growth Management Act.
Councilmembers shared memories during the meeting about the 16-year process to arrive at a signed WSA. They recalled focus work and an incredible amount of communication, research, and attention between the two water purveyors.
“The ‘ah ha’ moment came during a presentation by [Gray & Osborne],” Mayor McFarland commented. “It was one slide – that slide labeled ‘Availability of Water for Mitigation.’ In that slide [was] a picture worth thousands of words, because it showed in no uncertain terms that at no time, at the highest need for water supply and the highest need for mitigation, were we even close to exhausting the capacity of the combined systems. That was it. Both negotiating teams visibly relaxed. We knew it would work.”
Under this WSA, Sallal’s Rattlesnake Wells will serve as an additional mitigation water source for the City, and the City will sell domestic water to Sallal from the Centennial Well or Mt. Si Springs to increase the availability to Sallal’s members and vacant properties.
At the City Council meeting, Mayor McFarland thanked many people involved in the process, including the Sallal Board and membership, councilmembers, city staff, attorneys, Senator Mark Mullet, Representative Keith Goehner, hydrology and engineering experts, the Snoqualmie Tribe, representatives of King County Utilities Technical Review Committee, representatives of the Department of Health and the Department of Ecology, and former North Bend mayor Ken Hearing.
Next steps include the engineering design phase to build a domestic intertie and a mitigation intertie. These will serve as the means to share water, allowing the City to sell domestic water to Sallal, and allowing Sallal to sell mitigation water to the City.
“It’s a good solution that maintains Sallal as an independent business while both of us meet public requirements as water districts,” said Mayor McFarland.
Photo courtesy Mary Miller.