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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 1, 2004
Jim Bachmeier, water resources program manager, Thurston County Department of Water and Waste Management, 357-2491

Official WRIA 13 planning process ends

OLYMPIA – A 5-year effort to complete a water-resources management plan for the Deschutes River Watershed came to an end Oct. 29 when the Squaxin Island Tribe voted against the plan.  The plan focused on Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA 13), which embraces the Eld, Budd/Deschutes, and Henderson Inlet watersheds.

The 150-page document contained dozens of recommendations for WRIA 13, ranging from water rights to water quality and habitat protection.  Although the plan failed to win approval by the Squaxin Island Tribe, county officials said the process was nevertheless worthwhile. 

"The written words of this plan are part of a much bigger picture," said Jim Bachmeier, water resource program manager for the Thurston County Department of Water and Waste Management.  "We're walking away with new scientific information and a broader knowledge of water supplies and future demographic trends.  We're disappointed that the plan wasn't approved, but the research and dialogue that went into it are invaluable." 

The WRIA 13 plan was written by a 16-member planning committee whose members represented state, tribal and local governments, as well as business and environmental interests.  Also represented on the committee were the sport fishing, building, forestry and aquaculture interests. 

State law required the WRIA 13 plan to win approval by every participating government committee member, and a majority of non-government members, by Oct. 29.  The Squaxin Island Tribe's "no" vote on the Oct. 29 deadline ended the plan's adoption.  The plan won approval by all the remaining government representatives, and all of the non-government representatives in attendance.

 Thurston County staff will submit a final report on the plan to the state Department of Ecology, which provided $360,000 in grant funds for the project.  Residents can learn more about the draft plan by selecting the "WRIA 13" button of www.co.thurston.wa.us/wwm.

Of the 16 members on the WRIA 13 Planning Committee: 

  • Eight of nine government committee representatives voted in favor of the plan.  (The Squaxin Island Tribe being the exception.)
  • Six out of seven non-government committee members voted in favor of the plan.  (One member was absent.)

A representative of Olympia Master Builders registered a statement of formal disagreement to one specific recommendation of the WRIA 13 plan, however, the representative voted to approve the plan as a whole.

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3