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Town confirms water availability for San Juan County Fair

The Friday Harbor Town Council voted on Thursday to allow the County to continue to use water for the annual County Fair, but to enforce its water restrictions against other uses of water at the fairgrounds without Town Council permission. In its Notice of Violation to the County, the Town had proposed to provide water throughout the month of August to accommodate 4-H events.

Town staff reached out to 4-H who confirmed all 4-H events at the fairgrounds are held during the month of August, and that the Town’s water restrictions will have no impact on their events.

Town staff also reached out to Island Rec who confirmed when holding events at the fairgrounds they require little if any water. The Town Council offered to consider providing water during Island Rec programs when requested by the County. The Council will continue to provide water to the fairgrounds to meet emergency community needs such as vaccine clinics necessitated by a pandemic.

Mayor Ray Jackson announced that, in a spirit of cooperation, the Town also approved a plan to renew the County’s lease of Town-owned property off Sutton Road for the County’s solid waste and recycling program, trusting that the Town’s cooperation on solid waste will be reciprocated with the County’s cooperation on conserving Town water. He added, “The Town looks forward to partnering with the County in the future on important matters to the benefit of all our constituents.”

The County’s unauthorized but ever-increasing water demand over the years led to the fairgrounds being the 25th highest of 325 non-residential consumers of Town water last year. The Fairgrounds consumed more water in 2023 than many hotels in town, most restaurants, a commercial laundry, a self-serve laundromat, a grocery store, the car wash, the elementary school, Shipyard Cove Marina, and Jensen Shipyard to name a few.

“The Town takes seriously its obligation to provide drinking water to town residents and businesses,” said Town Administrator Denice Kulseth. “Limiting the County to using water only for authorized uses is one step we are taking to ensure our ability to meet the town’s needs, now and into the future.”

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