Community News

City Attorney Ian Munce says a new lawsuit by the Swinomish Tribe could threaten the city’s right to Skagit River water. 

City Attorney Ian Munce says a new lawsuit by the Swinomish Tribe could threaten the city’s right to Skagit River water.

Munce told the City Council Monday night that the new suit, the latest in a series involving Skagit River water, could allow the County to undo an agreement reached in 2001 that, as Munce put it, “provides us with enough water for the next 50 years.”

Munce noted that Anacortes provides water to many large customers, including Oak Harbor, Whidbey Naval Air Station and even some county PUD customers.

“Scary” is how Munce characterized the situation.

The Swinomish Tribe lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology challenges a 2006 agreement which allows for rural wells along the Skagit River and tributaries. The suit alleges the 2006 Instream Flow Rule threatens salmon, which the tribe relies on for economic and cultural benefit.

Munce says that if the 2006 agreement is thrown out, the County would be in a position to challenge the agreement which includes water allotment to the city of Anacortes.

Ecology spokesman Larry Altose said “This litigation will renew tension and uncertainty regarding water rights and water use in the Skagit basin,’ in an email statement.