Margaret Pageler - Leadership in water and environmental sustainability
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Mountaineers club seminar


Growth management and water in the Central Puget Sound


Margaret Pageler, Seattle City Councilmember

  1. Lecture Objectives. Provide broad understanding of the consequences and challenges Central Puget Sound faces from population growth and water needs, based on Seattle’s experience in the region.

  2. Lecture Outline
    1. Water for people. GMA requires concentrated growth in Central Puget Sound. Surface and groundwater sources supply the needed water.
    2. Water for fish. Stream flows and lake levels interact with municipal water withdrawals in a highly-altered urban environment.
    3. Major challenges.
      Place of use restrictions
      Use it or lose it rules
      Jurisdictional autonomy
      Federal and state agency uncertainty
      Reconfigured waterways
      Sewage and stormwater systems
    4. Visionary solutions – some examples
      Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan – “fish first” water allocation
      Tacoma Second Supply Project – conjunctive use
      Water Suppliers Forum – linkages and conservation
      Watershed Forums (WRIA’s) – intergovernmental salmon recovery
      Seattle Public Utilities natural systems for stormwater control
    5. Governing laws and agencies
      Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, State Growth Management Act, Shorelines Management Act, and state water law generally US EPA, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Wash. Dept of Ecology, Wash Dept of Health, Wash Dept of Fish and Wildlife, tribal authorities
    6. Ways citizens can get involved

  3. Abstract.
    Water utilities in the 21st century are changing from being merely utility service providers to becoming resource management agencies with environmental stewardship at the core of their mission. In the Pacific Northwest, powerful twin drivers of this change are the Growth Management Act , which mandates water service to support dense urban growth in the central Puget Sound metropolitan region, and the Endangered Species Act, which requires protection of salmon habitat in the rivers and streams of the metropolitan area.

    Meeting these twin mandates is complicated by outdated and inflexible water laws, a welter of municipal and utility jurisdictions, and lack of clear guidance from federal and state agencies. Nonetheless, collaborative work across the region is producing a shared commitment to integrated water resource management. The goals are to provide municipal water within the urban growth boundary to support growth management while ensuring good stream flows to support salmon.

    A handful of concurrent initiatives demonstrate visionary solutions. (a) The Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan bases municipal water withdrawals on fish-flow requirements. (b) The Tacoma Intertie agreement establishes conjunctive use between reservoirs and aquifers. (c) The Water Suppliers Forum “Outlook” and drought response embody a metropolitan-wide commitment to conservation and to fish. (d) The watershed forums (WRIA’s) ensure that suburban governments are active partners in salmon recovery. (e) A natural systems approach to stormwater management in the built-out environment is being modeled by Seattle Public Utilities.

    Without diminishing their focus on safe, reliable water supply for the metropolitan area as required by GMA, regional water utilities are stepping up to the challenge of holistic integrated water resource management.

Margaret Pageler.

Margaret Pageler