by Ross Barnes Tuesday, January 29, 2013 8:05 PM

January 29, 2013

Ross O. Barnes, Ph.D.

1004 – 7th Street #202

Anacortes, WA 98221

Phone: (360) 293-7023

To: Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt

      Commissioner Sharon Dillon

      Commissioner Ron Wesen

      Dale Pernula, Director, Planning & Development Services

      William Honea, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

cc: Gary Christensen, Manager, Planning & Development Services


I am submitting these comments on behalf of myself and Evergreen Islands as a partial response to the City of Anacortes petition #PL12-0258 to modify the Anacortes UGA boundary.  Other comments will also be submitted separately on various aspects of the same petition.  We ask that these comments be placed on the record of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners docketing hearing on PL12-0258.  We also ask that these comments be forwarded to the GMA Steering Committee for their deliberations on a PL12-0258 docketing recommendation to the Skagit County Commissioners.  We are also submitting these comments to Skagit County Planning & Development Services to assist the department in making their docketing recommendation to the Commissioners.  A hard copy will be submitted for the formal record. 

We request that the Skagit County Board of Commissioners reject PL12-0258 for docketing for the reasons stated here below.

SCC 14.08.020 (7) (b) (i) requires that a "detailed development proposal that is consistent with the applicable designation criteria" be submitted with any petition that includes a rezone proposal.  PL12-0258 is such a petition.  That which is required to be submitted as part of a petition is subject to review and comment during deliberations on that petition (Exhibit 1 - November 8, 2012, letter from Gerald Steel to Skagit County Commissioners). 

The detailed development proposal attached to PL12-0258 is commonly known as the Tethys development proposal as specified in the response to Section 3, question 1of the petition.

The Tethys development proposal will implement a water service agreement (contract) between the City of Anacortes and Tethys Enterprises, Inc. (Exhibit 2).  As discussed below, this water service agreement violates the comprehensive plans of the City of Anacortes and Skagit County.  Any action amending a comprehensive plan to facilitate the Tethys development proposal and water service agreement is subject to appeal for said violation.



Executive Summary

Neither the City of Anacortes nor Skagit County should take any action extending the term of performance of the Tethys water service agreement (hereafter the Tethys WSA) (Exhibit 2), or amending comprehensive plans or development regulations, or issuing land use permits that specifically facilitate the implementation of the Tethys WSA because the agreement violates the comprehensive plans of the City of Anacortes and Skagit County. 

In the face of projected water supply deficits in Skagit County, Tethys' 5.5 MGD (million gallons per day) of contracted water exceeds Anacortes' industrial allocation in the Skagit County Coordinated Water System Plan 1999/2000 (CWSP) by over 2.4 MGD, also consumes PUD #1's 1 MGD new industrial allocation (CWSP Table 8-8), plus an additional 1.4 MGD of water that may be unavailable or taken from other users because of CWSP projected water supply deficits for Skagit County.

All agencies and governments in Skagit County must look to the limited allocations of new industrial water supply to maximize and support industrial job growth throughout the county.  However, Anacortes specifies that all of the 5.5 MGD allocated to Tethys is to be processed only within the City of Anacortes. 

Introduction - Tethys Contract

The City of Anacortes contracted with Tethys Enterprises in October, 2010, to provide up to 5.5 MGD of municipal water for industrial and manufacturing purposes for a contract term potentially extending to December 31, 2050 (Tethys WSA Sections 4.1, 4.6.1 and 15)(Exhibit 2).  This term is coincident with the projections of the Skagit County Coordinated Water System Plan 1999/2000 (CWSP), so the potential water demands of the Tethys WSA should be reviewed in the context of overall water supply and demand and water allocations projected to 2050 in the CWSP and shorter term projections and allocations in other County water planning documents such as the 2011 Anacortes Water System Plan (AWSP) and the Skagit County PUD #1 2007 Water System Plan (Draft) (PWSP). 

I note that the CWSP is part of the Skagit County Comprehensive Plan.  Skagit County Comprehensive Plan Policy 9A-8.4 requires that "water supply development and service shall be consistent with all related plans, including but not limited to, the Coordinated Water Systems Plan, the Anacortes-Fidalgo Island Water System Plan, this Comprehensive Plan, and related purveyor plans as they are developed."  Policy 9A-8.4 is also incorporated into the AWSP at page 3-13.  Similarly, the CWSP and the AWSP are part of the City of Anacortes Comprehensive Plan.

Projected New Industrial Water Allocations in the CWSP and AWSP versus the Tethys Contract

[More detailed technical discussions are included in the footnotes (F1, F2, F3….)] 

In the face of serious projected water rights/water supply deficits by 2050 in the combined Anacortes/PUD #1 water service areas (see discussion below), the CWSP projects and allocates a maximum of 21 MGD of industrial water demand for large industrial customers of Skagit County water systems, with that amount remaining constant from 2020 to 2050.  Of this amount, 16 MGD is allocated to the Anacortes water system (CWSP Table 8-9) and 5 MGD is allocated to PUD #1 (CWSP Table 8-8).  By 2007, existing Anacortes industrial customers Shell and Tesoro were already using as much as a yearly average of 13.23 MGD, and future projections to 2029 allocate a fixed quantity of 12.92 MGD to Shell and Tesoro (AWSP Table 4-10).  AWSP projections for current industrial customers leave 3.08 MGD of the CWSP 16 MGD for new industrial uses and customers; however, the AWSP allocates 3.4 MGD for such future uses to 2029 (AWSP Table 4-10), exceeding the CWSP's 16 MGD by 0.32 MGD (F1). 

The Tethys water supply contract for up to 5.5 MGD plus current user allocation of 12.92 MGD exceeds Anacortes' CWSP industrial water allocation of 16 MGD by 2.4 MGD (F2).  Note that the AWSP was approved by the Anacortes City Council in March, 2012, 1-1/2 years after the City approved the Tethys contract, but the Tethys 5.5 MGD are only recognized in the AWSP to the extent of 3.4 MGD. 

The PWSP makes future water allocation deficits even worse by postulating the PUD #1 (hereafter PUD) as using the whole 5 MGD of new industrial water use (PWSP Table 3.13) allocated for the whole of Skagit County for the period 2020 to 2050, even though the CWSP gives the PUD only 1 MGD of the 5 MGD total (CWSP Table 8-8). 

The Tethys water contract and PUD's water musings exceed the total future industrial water allocations of the CWSP by up to 6.4 MGD.  And this number assumes that Anacortes' existing industrial customers don't exceed their projected allocations by one drop.  But Shell and Tesoro already exceeded those allocations in 2007. 

The allocations and uses of industrial water, including Tethys' over-allocation, are shown graphically in Figure 1 - Time Series and Figure 2 - Time Slice 2020 – 2050

Figure 1. Time Series Illustrating Tethys Over-allocation



Figure 2. Time Slice Illustrating Tethys Over-Allocation



Projected Water Supply Deficits in 2050

Anacortes officials are fond of stating that Anacortes has more than enough water rights for future uses.  However, that statement is refuted by the demand projections of the CWSP. 

The CWSP uses high growth population forecasts for long range water demand projections to conservatively plan water source and supply for potential future growth (CWSP Section 7.2, page 7‑1) (F3).  To simplify, only the water service areas, Skagit Basin water rights and projected water demands for Anacortes and PUD Judy Reservoir system will be discussed (F4). 

Anacortes has 54.94 MGD of continuous and 11.18 MGD of interruptible (subject to WAC 173-503 Skagit Basin In-stream Flow Rule) water rights on the Skagit River (AWSP Table 7-1), but essentially no functional raw water reservoir capacity compared to projected water demands.

NOTE: Anacortes has lost 9.7 MGD of the interruptible water rights assumed by the 1996 MOA and the CWSP (F5).  Thus, the water rights assumed by the CWSP must be reduced by 9.7 MGD.  That loss of 9.7 MGD extinguishes a potential water supply for the whole of the Skagit County rural population of 85,078 or less projected for the year 2050 (CWSP Table 8-1) (F6). 

PUD has a maximum total water right of 35.8 MGD under the 1996 MOA with 27.52 MGD not subject to the lower Skagit River in-stream flows, and storage capacity of 1,450 MG in Judy Reservoir (CWSP page 9-13 and PWSP Section, page 2-12).  The yearly average available water draw is less than 35.8 MGD (F7). 

Typically the minimum allowable source water draws during low flow conditions for the PUD and Anacortes water systems occur during the time of maximum water demands during the late dry season. 

Projected 2050 peak day demand is 47.6 MGD for the Anacortes water service area (CWSP Table 8-9), and 70.2 MGD for the PUD service area (CWSP Table 8-8).  These numbers overestimate Anacortes demand and correspondingly underestimate PUD demand, because the CWSP allocates population growth to Anacortes in excess of Anacortes stated intentions due to the limited expansion opportunities imposed by island topography, environmental limitations, and land area.  In the year 2050, Anacortes water system is projected to have a 7.34 MGD potential continuous supply excess relative to peak day demand based on the 54.94 MGD continuous water right.  However, the PUD water system is projected to have a potential supply deficit of more than 34.4 MGD relative to peak day demand (F8, F9).  The combined deficit is more than 27 MGD (F10). 

The projected water demand vs. water rights for the PUD #1 system alone are shown graphically in Figure 3 - Time Series and Figure 4 - Time Slice at 2050.  The projected water demand vs. water rights for the combined Anacortes and PUD #1 systems is shown graphically in Figure 5 - Time Series and Figure 6 - Time Slice at 2050.  In Figures 5 and 6, Anacortes interruptible water rights of 11.18 MGD are shown; however, there are no stated plans in the 50 year CWSP projections, or any other water system plan, to build water intake, processing and piping structures or reservoir capacity to effectively use this water (F10, F11, and F12). 

Figure 4. PUD #1 Water Right Deficit



Figure 5. Projected Water Demand vs. Water Rights for the Anacortes and PUD #1 Combined



Figure 6. . Projected Water Demand vs. Water Rights for Anacortes and PUD #1 Combined



Filling the Water Supply-Demand Gap

The Judy Reservoir storage capacity does not assist the situation of peak demand deficit because the 2050 projected average PUD demand of 36.2 MGD (CWSP Table 8-8) is still greater than the PUD peak draw of 35.8 MGD, so PUD could not build up a storage surplus to offset peak demand conditions, and would need to depend on water interties with the Anacortes water system just to meet average demand conditions and offset enough of PUD's own water supply to fill Judy Reservoir (F10).

The PUD failed to secure sufficient water rights under the 1996 MOA to meet 50 year projected demands, which became apparent as soon as the CWSP was revised in 1999/2000.  The CWSP 1999/2000 predates the future water supply restrictions associated with the Skagit Basin In-stream Flow Rule (SBIFR) of WAC 173-503 and thus postulates future ground and surface water supplies that if available at all will be subject to minimum in-stream flows (F9).  The CWSP is overdue for revision and extension of water balance projections well beyond 2050 which will increase the 50 year projected deficits of the CWSP. 

The only water source currently available to offset the projected PUD deficit of more than 34.4 MGD is the projected excess of water right over immediate water demand of the Anacortes water system.  Indeed, the CWSP (Section 10.1) and the Anacortes and Skagit PUD Joint Operating Agreement anticipate sharing of water and facilities between the two major water systems to meet combined Skagit County demands.  However, Anacortes interruptible water rights are extinguished during low flow conditions that coincide with times of increased water demand.  Additional storage reservoir volume multiple times the current size of Judy Reservoir will be needed to store water for use during times of high demand that exceed the instantaneous water rights of the combined water systems(F11, F12).  Water demand is higher than average for about 4 months during late summer and fall (AWSP Table 4-4).  Future interruptible water rights that might be obtained under WAC 173-503 will require even more storage capacity for efficient use. 

Additional water storage capacity is not recognized in the 50 year projections of the CWSP.  The next revision of the CWSP must seriously explore the options for significant additional reservoir storage capacity (F12). 



The 2050 peak demand water supply deficit projected by the CWSP for the combined Anacortes and PUD service areas is more than 27 MGD during low flow conditions in the water source areas.  In the face of projected water supply deficits, all agencies in Skagit County must look to the limited allocations of new industrial water supply to maximize and support industrial job growth throughout the County.  However, Anacortes has contracted a potential 5.5 MGD of new industrial demand to Tethys Enterprises which exceeds the new industrial allocation of 3.4 MGD in the AWSP and even the 5 MGD of new industrial demand projected by the CWSP for ALL of Skagit County from 2020 to 2050. 

Tethys' 5.5 MGD exceeds Anacortes' industrial allocation in the CWSP by over 2.4 MGD, also consumes PUD's 1 MGD new industrial allocation (CWSP Table 8-8), plus an additional 1.4 MGD of water which may be unavailable because of CWSP projected water supply deficits and deficient water storage capacity.  Further, Anacortes specifies that ALL of this 5.5 MGD be processed only within the City of Anacortes. 

Any land use permit or Comprehensive Plan Amendment issued to facilitate the Tethys WSA is liable to appeal for violation of Comprehensive Plan Policies of Skagit County and the City of Anacortes as stated in the CWSP and AWSP and elsewhere.  Any restrictions placed on Anacortes' water supply to Tethys as a result of these appeals could in turn result in a counter party suit from Tethys for breach of contract.  Neither the City of Anacortes nor Skagit County should take any action extending the term of performance of the Tethys contract or changing comprehensive plans or development regulations that facilitate the implementation of the Tethys water supply contract. 

The Uncontrollable Circumstances clause Section 9.5 of the Tethys water service contract would appear not to indemnify the City of Anacortes for failure to deliver water to Tethys because of foreseeable circumstances such as violations of comprehensive plans on the part of the City, etc. (see Contract - Exhibit A: Definitions. #14. Uncontrollable Circumstances).  The statements of City of Anacortes officials that contracted water service to Tethys would not be a priority over water service to residential customers are not supported by the Tethys contract language or by the terms of AMC 8.29.050 A., B., C., or D covering low river flow and emergency water situations.




F1. 16 MGD - 12.92 MGD = 3.08 MGD.  Compare the 0.32 MGD excess allocation with the statement in the AWSP "the Anacortes Water System Plan is consistent with the policies, goals, and requirements set forth in the Coordinated Water System Plan" (AWSP Section 3.4.). 

F2. 5.5 MGD + 12.92 MGD - 16 MGD = 2.42 MGD.


F3.  Climate change predictions for northwest Washington such as Skagit River Basin Climate Science Report, Lee and Hamlet (2011) suggest that potential climate/weather changes will have less negative effects on human living and economic activities in this area than in many other areas where more extreme weather events and chronic droughts may become a new normal.  Thus, the appeal of northwest Washington for residence and business will likely increase on a relative basis.  Using high population growth trajectories for water system planning in the CWSP is both prudent and appropriate.  High growth trajectories are about 0.5% greater per annum than medium population forecasts (CWSP Table 7-3).  The one exception to "less negative effects" above is a significantly increased river flood risk which can be mitigated with appropriate land use planning.  The referenced report is available at:


F4.  The AWSP has resurrected long neglected water rights on Lake Campbell, but their future utility for modern water supply is questionable since all infrastructure to utilize those rights has long been abandoned or destroyed and such use pumped Lake Campbell dry (photo and testimony on page 27 of At Home On Fidalgo, Ed. Evelyn Adams, 1999).  Again Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) raised the issue of this long neglected water right, but requested that it be included in the AWSP only if Anacortes was still using this water (AWSP Appendix 1-1: Comment and Response Log #19 and WDOE letter of 8/25/11).  However, Anacortes added this 2.59 MGD to their list of primary water rights even though use stopped many decades ago.  


F5.  ASWP Table 7-1, compare to 1996 MOA numbers in ASWP Table 3-2 and CWSP.  Apparently the draft of the AWSP sent to Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) included the 9.7 MGD.  WDOE noted that the water right had been relinquished in 2001 and requested that it be removed from the water rights listed in Table 7-1 (AWSP Appendix 1-1: Comment and Response Log #18, and WDOE letter of 8/25/11). 


F6.  The lost 9.7 MGD was subject to the Skagit River In-stream Flow Rule.  USGS Skagit River gage data averaged over 71 years indicate that minimum flows are met or exceeded for an average of 314 days per year or 86% of the year.  If the 9.7 MGD were collected 86% of the time and pumped to a raw water storage reservoir which lost 8% of the water to flushing, etc., the lost water rights would serve the entire rural population of Skagit County projected to be 85,078 or less in 2050 (CWSP Table 8-1) using 90 GPD per person for rural areas (CWSP Section 7.11). 


F7.  Because various portions of the 35.8 MGD are subject to flow conditions in the Cultus Mt. streams or the Skagit River, when the allowable maximum source draw drops below 35.8 MGD because of low flow conditions, that deficit cannot be "made up" later because 35.8 MGD is the maximum instantaneous draw.  The PUD is developing a model that will allow estimates of the probable quantity of water available for beneficial use in their Judy Reservoir system (PWSP Section 3.6.1, page 3-41).  For long range planning beyond the time line of the current PWSP, the PUD's model should include additional legally available water sources that can fill the projected supply deficits of the PUD system (for instance F9). 


F8.  54.94 MGD - 47.6 MGD = 7.34 MGD 

35.80 MGD - 70.2 MGD =  -34.4 MGD

F9.  The discussion in the CWSP and other WSPs of potential new groundwater or surface water supplies for the Anacortes and PUD service areas is speculative in light of current water law and policy of the State of Washington and water rights litigation in Skagit County.  Domestic, municipal, and commercial/industrial water supply reservations of 9.37 MGD in WAC 173-503-073 (1)(b) (Skagit Basin In-stream Flow Rule) are not available for existing municipal water systems such as Anacortes and PUD #1.  The quantities are also subject to litigation and may be extinguished. 


F10.  70.2 MGD - 7.34 MGD - 35.8 MGD = 27.08 MGD, but PUD's full 35.8 MGD would typically not be available during times of high demand.  PUD's continuous water right is only 27.52 MGD.  Additional water from reservoir storage could be available if significant amounts of Anacortes water was distributed in the PUD system so Judy Reservoir was not depleted (see Filling the Water Supply-Demand Gap paragraph 1).   There are no stated intentions in any water system plan to use Anacortes' 11.18 MGD interruptible water rights via reservoir storage for low flow high demand conditions 11 (see F11). 


F11.  Using the low flow conditions stated in F6, 11.18 MGD x 314 days at or above minimum river flow = 3510 MG seasonal storage for interruptible water right only.  To store the excess of Anacortes 54.94 MGD continuous water right would require even more volume, although as mentioned in the text, a portion of this excess would be needed to fill Judy Reservoir 10 (F10).  Compare the current Judy Reservoir at 1450 MG. 


F12.  The PWSP in Table 3-17, page 3-39, references certificated additional reservoir storage volume at Judy Reservoir of about 424 MG which is hardly relevant to additional storage needs11 (F11).  Table 3-17 also references a pending storage application for Day Lake of 11,200 acre-ft or 3650 MG, which would be very difficult to approve under the lake protection standards of WAC 173‑503-071 or the stream protection standards for Day Creek in WAC 173-503-074.


Ross O. Barnes, Ph.D.

Earth Science


Exhibit 1 – November 8, 2012, letter from Gerald Steel to Skagit County Commissioners on petition PL12‑0258.

Exhibit 2 – City of Anacortes, Washington, and Tethys Enterprises, Inc. Agreement Regarding Water Service, October 1, 2010.


Add comment

  Country flag

  • Comment
  • Preview

Copyright © 1998–2012 Evergreen Islands. All rights reserved.