Washington officials oppose island proposals for rainwater

January 6, 2020 GMT

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — County planning officials in Washington state have opposed changes to restrictions on using rain as a primary water source for an island community.

The Skagit County Planning and Development Services Department advised county commissioners against the proposals for Guemes Island, The Skagit Valley Herald reported Saturday.

Members of the Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee proposed amendments to relax regulations on using rainwater as a domestic water source and to enforce existing code requiring pre-approval to dig new wells.

Guemes Island is part of Skagit County, which operates a ferry to the island about 83 miles (134 kilometers) north of Seattle.

The planning and development staff recommended the county commissioners adopt changes and re-interpretations of existing code rather than the proposed amendments.

County policy on rainwater catchment systems requires review from an engineer, a rule the island advisory committee seeks to remove.

Michael Cerbone, a long-range planner with the county, said he does not believe the requirement should be removed from county code because engineer review is the only realistic way the county can ensure a rainwater system is safe.

The requirement can add at least $5,000 to the cost of a system and is not necessary to ensure safety, committee President Hal Rooks said.

“It’s frustrating because we’ve been at it for four years and we haven’t gotten everything we wanted,” Rooks said. “But it’s not totally dead in the water, I don’t think.”