What happens in the courthouse...

Unless explicitly noted otherwise, this blog represents my own opinions, not those of any organization (like the Kittitas County Democratic Party) that I might be involved with.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Public hearing, county's reasoning for spending up to $51,000 per acre-foot of water

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted yesterday to spend about $2.5 million for about 105 acre-feet of water rights. Most of the money will apparently come from a line of credit, as announced at the meeting; no further details were given about the line of credit, which was mentioned for the first time at this meeting.

The county is spending $2.5 million that it does not have on 105 acre-feet of water.

Enough water is being purchased to support building between 900 and 1100 homes outside of urban areas in the county -- and estimated 20 years' worth of building, according to comments by Paul Jewell.

The Commissioners could have chosen several approaches to the situation: they could have decided to wait for lower prices, or purchased only water that cost less than $14,000 per acre foot (a total of 24 acre-feet, enough for 190-250 homes), or only water that cost less than $22,000 per acre-foot (a total of 91 acre-feet, enough for 700-950 homes), or chosen to buy even water that cost $51,000 per acre foot (a total 105 acre-feet). They chose to accept all of the agreements.

Any decision to buy water would have met the stated goals of the water bank. Most decisions would have cost less money; Commissioner O'Brien made the motions to accept and to fund the $51,000/acre-foot purchase -- setting a new record -- as far as I know, for water in Kittitas County. This deal is scheduled to close today; the other deals have now been funded and will be finalized at later dates.

In his comments, Commissioner Jewell stressed that this water would be used for basic human needs like cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene. This was interesting reasoning, since he has in the past stressed the need for water to be used for home construction as an economic development function, and, of course, the basic human needs don't exist yet. It is interesting to re-read some of my 2010 posts about water. Here's my favorite.

I definitely appreciate and recognize the amount of time Commissioner Jewell has put into this project. Like everyone, I hope this arrangement works out for the best, even if I might have pursued at least a slightly different path.

1 comment:

  1. More government control gives officials more opportunity for graft. Even if the commissioners are not getting kickbacks, they should be aware that these kind of deals lead to the appearance of corruption. If no one understands why the County is doing this, then people will begin to wonder who is benefiting.