Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Victoria Fowler
Gazette Reporter 

Port gets update on water proposal


December 26, 2019

At Thursday's port meeting, Properties and Development Manager Debbie Snell, updated the port commissioners on a joint water project between the port and the City of Colfax.

The water project between the city and the port is to add a port well at Port of Whitman Business Air Center to the City of Colfax water service area. The port well currently operates under a 5,000 gallon per day limit.

Snell said there was a meeting at the beginning of the month among the Department of Ecology, Department of Health and port and city staff to see if there were any major red flags or issues with operations, testing, permitting and any potential roadblocks. She said none were raised.

“DOE strongly recommended to move forward with the application,” Snell said. “This application does not commit the city in going through this proposal with the port.”

The process in moving forward requires DOE Water Rights Change applications to add the port well to the city water rights and applications for system changes to DOH.

“This process is going to happen in slow motion,” Snell said. “DOE stated in the meeting that they are two years out. This will move incrementally, but very slowly.”

Snell mentioned she will keep the port commissioners informed, but they shouldn't be expecting major news every other meeting.

“We are doing this for economic development purposes,” Snell said. “If there is any type of increase of usage at all it will push up against our water right and fire flow limits. This is something that we can use into the future so we don't have to worry about going past that 5,000 gallons a day.”

Port Commissioner Tom Kammerzell said this project is similar with what the port did at Wilma to preserve water.

“We can actually lose our water rights, but with the city, they can't take them away,” Kammerzell said.

Snell added how this project is preliminary depending on where the city will expand.

“This concept saves an absolute amazing amount of money as opposed to a hard water line going from the City of Colfax all the way out to the airport,” Snell said.


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