City Council celebrates water district agreement

February 4, 2014

By Peter Clark

The Issaquah City Council unanimously has backed the deal ending injecting storm water into the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer.

Less than a week after Mayor Fred Butler cemented an agreement between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, the memorandum of understanding came to the council during its regular meeting Jan. 21. The deal essentially plans to create an agreement for the decommission of the Lower Reid Infiltration Gallery, which sent Issaquah Highlands storm water into the aquifer, in exchange for a 10-year Issaquah hiatus on exploring a takeover of district utilities.

“Ninety days ago, I didn’t think for a second we’d be sitting here having this conversation,” Council President Paul Winterstein said. “One thing I struggled with through this whole time was there was an element of uncertainty about the quality of the water.”

He said he appreciated the caution taken by the city despite official approval.

“The Department of Ecology said things are fine, the Department of Health said things are fine, but we here at Issaquah think we have a spirit of environmental conservationism and maybe there is more than one correct way to handle storm water from the Issaquah Highlands,” Winterstein said. “I think this idea of giving deference to some uncertainty gave some openness to our side.”

District board member Lloyd Warren spoke during the audience comment period in favor of the desire to work together.

“What you have tonight is the result of a lot of hard work,” he said. “This could put to rest two issues that have been in this community: protection of the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer as well as how best to address Issaquah water service.”

Butler said they wanted to make the process as open as possible for residents concerned about water safety.

“It will come before a council work session,” he said, adding that is slated for March 10. “Since those are televised, that will provide a certain amount of transparency.”

The council authorized the administration to negotiate an interlocal agreement with the district and estimated March 17 as the date for council consideration.

 

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