By Don Nelson
The Town of Winthrop has joined Twisp, Okanogan and the Okanogan County commissioners in opposition to the proposal by a private investment company to create a new water bank that would allow the company to acquire water rights anywhere within the vast Columbia River basin in Washington state.
The proposed water bank would include tributaries like the Methow River. Crown Columbia Water Resources LLC has applied for an “area-wide water permit,” which the state Department of Ecology is reviewing.
At its meeting last week, the Winthrop Town Council endorsed a resolution that stated, in part, that “the Town of Winthrop will endeavor to actively oppose inappropriate outside attempts to turn the Methow water into a for-profit commodity.”
“How it [the Crown Columbia proposal] got this far amazes me,” Mayor Sally Ranzau said.
“They [Crown Columbia] would be soliciting to buy water cheap and sell it high,” said council member Bill McAdow. “Once it’s gone, it will never come back.”
Public Works Director Jeff Sarvis said that local water rights “would be moved out of the valley … and brokered by an investment firm.”
Council members expressed support for exploring creation of a local water bank that would retain water rights within the basin.
In other business:
• The council approved special event permit requests for the annual O’Terry’s 4th of July Classic softball tournament on July 3 and 4, with 150 anticipated participants; and the O’Terry’s Coed Classic softball tournament on Sept. 18-19, which also expects about 150 participants.
• The council heard a brief report from McAdow about possible revisions of the town’s outdoor burning ordinance. McAdow, who is reviewing the ordinance, said he expects few if any proposed changes. The review was prompted by council discussions last year about a possible ban on some forms of outdoor burning including campfires.
Council meetings update
The Winthrop Town Council’s regular meetings, on the first and third Wednesday of each month, will shift to 7 p.m. starting on April 7. The meetings can be viewed on the Zoom platform. For information, visit www.townofwinthrop.com or call 996-2320.