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Town of Friday Harbor to halt most bulk water sales effective September 1, 2024

LWVSJ Observer Corps*summary of Friday Harbor Town Council, June 6, 2024 meeting. 

The council approved Ordinance 1796 halting most bulk water sales to go into effect September 1, 2024. This action was prompted when a state review of the town’s water plan found that it did not cover bulk water sales and a legal review showed that the town’s water rights are only for water within the town limits or for customers linked to the town water system. The town’s ability to process enough water to meet demand has been under pressure, especially during summer months. The town has applied for a $3 million loan to add a fourth water filter to increase processing capacity. The project will take time to complete. Town will have consultants do a market review to set a fair market price for any bulk water sales. 

The ordinance allows the council to provide for specific bulk water sales in the case of natural disasters, public health emergencies, or emergency situations as designated by the council. The council designated the Hannah Heights PFAFs contamination an emergency situation to allow sales to Hannah Heights after the ordinance goes into effect on September 1. The council adopted the 2024 Rate study and set new water and sewer rates. 

The mayor noted the town proclamations for Pride Month and for the upcoming Juneteenth holiday. The Mayor and Town Council recognized the extraordinary service of nearly 18 years by outgoing Town Clerk Amy Taylor and the mayor sworn in Jennifer Krembs as the new town clerk. 

During public comment, David Medford of the water hauling company Sweetwater and a county resident who depends on occasional hauled spoke in opposition to proposed ordinance 1796 to end bulk water sales, asking that the town explore other options, or at a minimum provide a grace period to allow water haulers and their customers to arrange alternate supply sources. 

The town council approved the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) recommendation to increase the budget available for the round of grants to $70,000. Through May lodging tax receipts were down 17% vs. the same period in 2023. The committee is hoping to recruit a member who works in a tourism-related business for a vacant committee seat. The council approved restoring the practice of having the LTAC review the Visitors Bureau budget. After a public hearing the council approved the Transportation Improvement Plan for 2025-2030. 

 

The council reviewed a new updated draft ordinance on detached dwelling units which will be on the agenda next month. 

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

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