News Articles

Base water policy on fact, not fear

March 20, 2008
Daily Record - Guest column

First, I would like to thank the community for attending the public meetings in Cle Elum and Ellensburg last October 23rd and 24th. It will take the same participation to stop the current regulations which we are facing, ones that are not supported by scientific facts. The current "Memorandum of Agreement" (MOA), which our county commissioners will vote on, intends to place limitations on the use of domestic water in the Upper County before any study has been completed.

Much of the Upper County is comprised of complex geologic formations such as granite, phylite, hard sandstones, and clay; these are not good conductors of water. Bach Drilling has been drilling water wells in the Upper County since the 1940's; wells in this area have always produced low amounts of water. A universally known groundwater fact is that exempt water wells enhance surface water flows by reintroducing deeper levels of groundwater back to the surface. Placing further restrictions on wells that historically do not generate a great deal of water to begin with represents a costly plan.

These restrictions would include changing the long established 5,000 gallons a day per exempt well to a new 5,000 gallons a day per 40-acres limitation. This proposal would not only limit water use but it will change property values in the area.

For instance, if your neighbor has a well that was drilled before this MOA was implemented; they will be allowed to continue using 5,000 gallons a day. After the MOA, property owners will be limited to a new ruling of 5,000 gallons a day per 40-acres. Depending upon your lot size, this amount will average out to 125 gallons per day per acre. This will have an immediate effect on property owner value, and place unnecessary water usage constraints on your land. If wells are not going dry... why limit water use. Shouldn't the county wait to see what becomes of the upcoming study?

"Metering" of exempt wells represents another proposed rule contained in the MOA. Along with the initial cost, meters will have to be read daily in order to obtain accurate information. This will take numerous hours and will become very expensive in the long run. Considering most of the wells in the Upper County are in mountainous regions, it seems to be a logistical nightmare. Tax payer money is already being requested in order to fund a 3-year ground water study; do we really need more costly restrictions during this study?

The currently proposed MOA has been the result of the attempted moratorium spurred on by a "special interest group". This group has cost everyone in this county a lot of time and money. One thing that remains very clear is that the exempt well issue has nothing to do with water at all; it is an attempt to frustrate further growth in Kittitas County. Unfortunately, it has caused some property owners to panic into drilling projects that were not intended to occur for years. This has created economic hardships on many who cannot afford a well but have little choice, due to the overwhelming concerns of further restrictions.

A very important fact to remember is that there are no exempt wells in the Upper County going dry due to development. Spending over a million tax dollars for a groundwater study without any scientific evidence is one thing, but further restraints on water use and land development will have a harmful effect on the economy. Our community cannot allow county policy to be based on speculation and scare tactics. This MOA would affect the Upper County at first, but eventually it will spread throughout the county and affect all of us.

Jeremy Bach
Bach Well Drilling

Letter to the Editor

October 20, 2007
Daily Record - Guest column

Bach Drilling has been drilling water wells in Kittitas County since 1943. We have drilled municipal wells for Alpental, Thorp, Cle Elum, and Ellensburg - so we do have a really good feel for Kittitas County as a whole, pertaining to Groundwater. Over the years we have drilled many exempt wells for private landowners.

Throughout our company's history, we have never incurred problems with finding water and/or having wells run dry due to the influence of neighboring wells. Our company has not heard of anyone's well water levels being reduced because of over-drilling in a specific area. The vast majority of exempt wells only use a fractional amount of the 5,000 gallons a day that they are allowed.

Yes, there are locations in the Upper County where the wells are low producing, i.e. ( Peoh Point, Hidden Valley and the Cle Elum Ridge) however, these areas have always had problems since the first log cabin was built. Certain geologic formations that exist in the Upper County such as; Granite, Phylite, Hard Sandstones, and Clay, are not good conductors of water. This fact will never change.

Today, it remains a well known groundwater industry fact, that exempt water wells will enhance surface water flows, by reintroducing deeper levels of groundwater back to the surface.

When one hears "special interest groups" making unfounded statements, without scientific basis to support their concern, it makes one it really a water issue or an attack on the development of our county? These groups are good at filing petitions and trying to complicate issues. I don't think the Aqua Permanente' Petitioners have spent much time standing in mud around a drilling rig when it's snowing or constructing city water wells. If one has no experience with these complex matters, one should not create argument around it.

The requested Exempt Well / Groundwater Moratorium would not only cripple our economy and eliminate hundreds of jobs related to the building industry, but it would also interfere with the rights of private landowners. Should a family that has worked hard to save up enough money to build their dream home be stopped by anti-development groups? Do we really need more regulations and restrictions - making the process so costly and drawn out - that the average landowner cannot build?

I'm sure our elected officials will keep our land rights in mind when they make their decisions. Kittitas County's economic future depends upon it.

Jeremy Bach
Bach Drilling Company