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City, Suquamish Tribe discuss water rights

POULSBO — The city of Poulsbo and Suquamish Tribe are taking to issue the proposed transfer of water rights within the city. The two entities conferred at a regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday afternoon, retreating almost immediately into executive session for discussion including pending litigation.

Council member Ed Stern said the closed-door conversation did involve water rights questions regarding the city’s move to transfer water rights from a Pugh Road well to one in the Lincoln Road vicinity.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade, who was not at the meeting and was not in the 15-minute executive session, said the city has been working on the transfer process to heighten efficiency, and it’s all a part of efforts being made to ensure Poulsbo has sufficient water supply in the future.

After returning from executive session, Stern said both the city and tribe agreed to “look into further analysis and do homework on both sides.”

“They’re just trying to exercise their responsibility in relation to their treaty rights to protect stream flow and aquifer,” Stern said. Nothing, he added, has been filed regarding the issue, and he doesn’t expect it to be due to the “good relationship and good will” between the city and tribe. “I’m sure we’re going to be able to work this out.”

Quade, too, said the entities have established a successful relationship as partners, not adversaries.

“I’m confident that we’ll work out with the tribe something we can both live with,” she said.

Though the meeting adjourned shortly after the executive session, Suquamish tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman said he appreciated the government-to-government association.

“It’s helpful for us as a tribe to know that we have an agreement,” he said.

The two have a mutual understanding to meet periodically throughout the year, including at an annual dinner, to discuss shared topics.

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