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North end gets 60 day water hookup freeze

"The Kitsap Public Utilities District announced Thursday that no new connections will be allowed to the North Peninsula Water System for 60 days, unless specific criteria are met. This hookup halt affects the northern end of the county, including Hansville, Kingston and Gamblewood. The KPUD board of commissioners, who called the decision a difficult one, approved the suspension at their Sept. 12 meeting. A meeting to discuss the suspension is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Tuesday at the KPUD office on Finn Hill Road near Poulsbo. The suspension measure was taken in response to a request by an unnamed company to reserve the majority of the remaining 728 water connections in the northern end of the county. KPUD officials said the 60-day freeze allows KPUD to review the number of water connections available versus the level of demand for them. All projects that have received a commitment letter from the KPUD or those that already have a water main in the ground will be given a water hookup, said David Siburg, manager for KPUD. The remaining 728 water connections available to the North Kitsap area were expected to last for approximately four years at the normal rate of approximately 200 new hookups each year. The connections represent the final 17 percent of the North Peninsula Water System's total 4,200 connection-capacity. The KPUD said the cause of the water connection crunch lies within the bureaucracy of the Department of Ecology that manages water code and processes water rights. The processing of new water right applications changes has slowed to a standstill, KPUD said in a statement. The district has applications for new water rights pending Department of Ecology approval, including one for a new well in Kingston. The application was submitted in 1993. The well has since been drilled, outfitted and is ready to be used, but it has not been approved. The well would, according to KPUD almost double the number of State Department of Health certified connections that KPUD could serve from the North Peninsula System. There seems to be a disconnect between water planning and growth management planning, Siburg said. A Department of Ecology spokesman said the situation is not unique to Kitsap County, but that growth areas around the state have faced the same problem. Curt Hart, public information officer for the DOE, said the department recognizes it is not able to process water rights applications as fast as they would like to, but that there is a need for reform in the state water regulations, some of which are more than 50 years old. "

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