During recent discussions about Issaquah’s roads and transportation networks keeping pace with new development, the city’s Land and Shore Committee also learned of the planning department’s proposal to do away with requiring Water Concurrency Certificates.
Currently, most new developments must demonstrate they would not unduly drain the water resources of the city. The city is considering deleting from its code any requirement for new developments to mitigate their impact on the city’s water supply.
City Planning Director Mark Hinthorne said eliminating the water concurrency requirements was “a way to streamline the administrative process that at the moment doesn’t appear to be adding value.”
Land and Shore Committee member, Councilor Maureen McCarry, remembering the days just seven or eight years ago when water shortages were a real problem in Issaquah, questioned the wisdom of relaxing water use requirements. She said that although regional water agreements with groups like Cascade Water Alliance had given some assurance of continued supply, there were areas on the valley floor and on Squak Mountain that did not have unlimited water supplies.
“To do away with water concurrency is really an issue. It makes me nervous,” she said.
The committee noted that although the City of Seattle had recently come to the rescue by offering a portion of their water supplies to Issaquah, Seattle had only done this to serve its own needs. In the depressed economy, residents were more conservative with their water use, and new development was down, so Seattle was stuck with an excess of water it wasn’t making revenue on. Offering excess water to cities like Issaquah was one way to prevent idle capacity. But, should economic activity pick up in Seattle, it could not be relied upon for future supply.
The committee also noted that Cascade’s purchase of the aptly named Lake Tapps gave Issaquah more security in its water supply. Cascade is a nonprofit corporation comprised of the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Tukwila, plus the Covington Water District, the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, and the Skyway Water and Sewer District.