The Issaquah City Council on Tuesday heard the city’s analysis of a citizen’s petition to designate the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer as a sole-source aquifer.
Resident Hank Thomas submitted the sole-source aquifer request to the EPA last December. If the petition is approved, the EPA would have the ability to approve or deny federal funding for certain projects.
The EPA requested that the city submit comments on the petition, so an analysis was completed and an independent peer review by an outside consulting group. Both of those and a submittal letter will be sent to the EPA.
Some city residents receive water from the aquifer, and some from the Cascade Water Alliance (CWA). Council members asked several questions of Deputy Public Works Director Sheldon Lynne about what would happen if the aquifer failed and the city needed to receive additional water from the CWA.
“If we had to replace the water from the aquifer tomorrow, how would we do it, issue bonds?” Councilman John Rittenhouse asked.
Staff explained that the cost, which could be as much as $75 million, would have to be covered by bonds or a similar method, and would be spread among all users of the utility because it would be deemed a supply issue. The cost would also be shared with the Sammamish Water & Sewer District, which provides water to some city residents.
Council President Maureen McCarry pointed out that if the city continues to use the aquifer and maintains it, there’s no reason to believe it would fail.
The public is invited to comment on the petition through Sept. 29. To review it online, visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/water.nsf/Sole+Source+Aquifers/Issaquah.