North Bend council approves water plan, sets city’s future mitigation strategy

UPDATE | AUGUST 5th

The North Bend city council unanimously approved the 2020 water service plan at the August 4th meeting.

ORIGINAL STORY

The North Bend city council is expected to take action on the city’s new Water Service Plan (WSP) at its August 4th meeting. Community members wishing to comment on the plan can do so when the meeting begins at 7PM.

The Department of Health now requires updated water service plans every 10 years for water purveyors. North Bend’s WSP was last updated in 2010.

The Water Service Plan is designed to be North Bend’s water utility planning strategy for the next 20 years.

The plan provides an overview of the city’s water supply and its [sometimes contentious] water mitigation requirements.

[See earlier article on North Bend mitigation issues]

The plan states, “The City is acutely aware of the need to increase the supply and curb the demand of mitigation water and must do so soon.”

New water rights in Washington State now come with mitigation requirements to protect area rivers. Older water rights – like those of Snoqualmie and also North Bend’s Mt Si Springs – do NOT require mitigation.

North Bend’s newer Centennial Water right requires it to put water back into the Snoqualmie River during dry months, protecting water levels. System gauges monitor river flow so the city knows when mitigation is needed.

The city currently buys its mitigation water from Seattle Public Utilities Hobo Springs in the Cedar Watershed. A pipe system then delivers that water to the south fork of the Snoqualmie River when mitigation is triggered.

North Bend is the only water purveyor in the area that has extra mitigation expenses. Public Work Director Mark Rigos estimates those expenses to be $500,000 annually when contract fees, purchase price and mitigation monitoring and delivery systems are factored in.

The Centennial Well has enough water supply to serve the city’s expected growth in the coming years, but more water usage also means more mitigation during dry months.

That mitigation water is what North Bend does not have enough of, particularly under certain circumstances. The 2008 Centennial Water right also requires a back up mitigation source for Hobo Springs, which the city is still working toward.

The 2020 water plan provides guidance for how the city plans meet its mitigation requirements for the next two decades.

According to the WSP, “Under present peak summer demand, if a drier summer were to occur, the flows at Hobo Springs would be at or just below those required to properly mitigate water demand.”

ReduceWater Usage

North Bend began taking steps to reduce peak water usage – thus also reducing mitigation amounts – by passing a Water Conservation Ordinance in June. The WCO limits water usage from August 15th – October 15th (peak of dry months) and also when droughts occur.

Per the water plan, “The ability to reduce peak uses would allow for a reduction in water production and the corresponding mitigation demands and would allow the City to keep peak water production within the available mitigation flow.”

North Bend is also working to repair/upgrade its water system to fix leaks. The city’s distribution leakage last year was nearly 26%.

Increase Mitigation Sources beyond Hobo Springs

The city also bought the Cascade Golf Course water right and is petitioning the state to change that water right from irrigation to mitigation. It also continues to negotiate a water supply contract with Sallal Water Association that would sell wholesale water to Sallal and purchase needed mitigation water from Sallal. The water plan assumes a supply agreement with Sallal within two years.

According to the WSP, a second and/or third mitigation source “would ensure that the City can mitigate Centennial Well use even during periods of low flow in Hobo Springs.”

The City submitted its Draft Water Service Plan to the Department of Health and King County Utilities Technical Review Committee on March 18, 2020.

Comments were received from DOH, UTRC and the Department of Ecology. during the spring and summer and the city’s consulting water engineer, Gray & Osborne, refined the WSP.

If the plan is approved by city council on August 4th, it would then be submitted to DOH and UTRC for final approval.

Again, the final online public hearing regarding the North Bend Water Service Plan happens at 7PM, August 4th.

Details about attending the zoom meeting and providing public comment can be found HERE.

North Bend mitigation water source plans

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