Department of Health Approves New Water Connections for Yelm

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The Washington State Department of Health has approved new water connections for the city of Yelm.

The city now has 594 new water connections available for residential and commercial growth, up from less than 100.

The city announced the new connections yesterday in a press release.

The DOH had limited the number of new connections the city could allow, due to its limited water availability.

The city has been working with limited connections since 2010 and was down to less than 100 remaining connections, which was restricting land use approvals for some property owners in Yelm, according to the release.

Over the past five years, the city has undertaken a comprehensive water management strategy. Water use in the city was the same in 2014 as it was in 2005, even as the city has grown, the release states.

The city's ongoing strategy includes a commercial water conservation program, the acquisition and transfer of area water rights to the city, improvements to the downtown well, replacement of aging water lines, and detecting and repairing leaks.

"The success of the program has resulted in a significant increase in water system capacity and afforded the City the opportunity to request an increase in its connection limit by the Washington State Department of Health," the release states.

“Hard work by City staff, support from the Council, and the understanding of the community has provided this opportunity for Yelm to continue to move forward ... 594 connections will easily get us through the construction of the new well, treatment plant, and storage tank at the new SW Yelm well site,” Yelm Mayor Ron Harding said in the release.

The city feels confident the Washington Supreme Court will uphold the state's approval of the city's new water rights, Harding added.

The city was granted new water rights by the state Department of Ecology, but a citizen appealed DOE's decision. The state Supreme Court is hearing that case next month.

The Pollution Control Hearings Board stated that the City is providing the “gold standard” of mitigation when it approved the City’s water rights permit, the city's release states.

“The fight for water in our state has been extremely costly and complex but it is paramount for the future of our community," Harding said. "I am pleased that our hard work has paid off."

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