Bottling plant could affect Oak Harbor
September 24, 2012 · Updated 9:31 AM
Some Oak Harbor and U.S. Navy base residents may remember back in September 2010, when the Anacortes Water Treatment plant asked them to voluntarily conserve their water usage because the Skagit River water level had dropped below 10 feet.
Today, many folks in Skagit County who are also dependent on water from the Skagit River are concerned that back in October 2010 the Anacortes mayor with little notice and no public input entered into an agreement with Tethys Enterprises to provide water from the Skagit River in the amount of 5 million gallons per day for the next 50 years from the city’s newly updated water treatment plant. Anacortes has rights to 55 million gallons of water per day from the Skagit River.
Is the selling of water for profit the smart way to go? If the population in our area increases as projected to 100,000 additional persons by 2050, an additional 10 to 17 million gallons of water per day may be needed. The average American uses 100 to 175 gallons of water per day.
The majority of scientists report that we are in a climate crisis. July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded in U.S. history. What happens if the glaciers that feed the Skagit River start to dry up in the next 50 years? Would Anacortes be committed to this contract over and above our water needs?
One condition of the Tethys agreement is for the city of Anacortes to annex 23 acres near Reservation Road and Highway 20, close to Turner’s Bay Lagoon (recently restored) for the development of one of the largest water bottling plants in the U.S. (the size of 11 Safeway stores). Mayor Maxwell says that the Tethys’ plant will bring many jobs, but Tethys refused to promise jobs as a condition of its water contract. Some reports indicate that highly automated bottling plants provide only a handful of low-paying jobs. More likely, the Tethys plant will create traffic problems for Oak Harbor commuters in the already-congested Highway 20 corridor.
I believe (along with the people of Snohomish County who turned down a similar deal with Tethys) that it is just wrong for a corporation to take water that is essential to the life of its residents (Skagit and Island counties) and sell it for profit and provide no written guarantee of jobs for local residents.
In order to fulfill the bottling water contract, a location site for the plant must be identified by Dec. 1, 2012. The Anacortes City Council will meet Monday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. to vote on whether to submit an application to Skagit County to annex the city’s urban growth area (UGA) to accommodate this plant.
If you are concerned about this project as many of your neighbors to the north are; please speak out against bottling the Skagit River by signing the petition located at the website, http://signon.org/sign/dont-bottle-the-skagit-1?source=s.em.cp&r_by=1225035, by emailing or calling Anacortes Council members and voicing your feelings (www.cityofa
nacortes.org/council.htm) or gathering with us on Monday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. at 904 Sixth Street to request a public hearing to discuss the ramifications of this annexation for the proposed Tethys bottling plant.