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In brief: Officials say shooting was ruse

Sun., March 2, 2008

What happened to faking a cough?

Sheriff’s detectives in Franklin County say a man had his friend shoot him in the shoulder so he wouldn’t have to go to work.

When he first spoke with deputies, Daniel Kuch, of Pasco, told them he’d been the victim of a drive-by shooting while he was out jogging Thursday. But detectives told KONA radio that Kuch later acknowledged that he had asked his friend to shoot him so he could get some time off work and avoid an upcoming drug test.

The friend, Kurtis Johnson, of Burbank, has been arrested for investigation of reckless endangerment. Kuch was booked into the county jail and is expected to be charged with false reporting.

Detectives declined to say where Kuch works or whether he still has a job. It wasn’t known if he had obtained a lawyer.


Man sentenced for human trafficking

A South Korean national has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in a human-trafficking ring.

The ring forced some women into the sex trade to pay off their debts.

According to documents filed in U.S. District court, Junk Won Hwang helped smuggle as many as 20 people a month into the United States from Canada.

The documents say many of the 29-year-old Hwang’s victims were women, who wound up in massage parlors and brothels.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport and smuggle illegal immigrants, and two counts of bringing an illegal immigrant into the U.S. for financial gain.

Court documents say Hwang had been charged in a 17-count indictment, but has been cooperating with authorities in major human-trafficking investigations involving the U.S., Korea and Canada.


Water supply study urges conservation

Water supplies in Western Washington will shrink by as much as 25 percent over the next decade, but with new sources and conservation there should be enough for the next 40 or 50 years, according to new studies.

Water managers in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett all expect they can adjust their water systems to make sure there’s enough water for everyone, as long as fast-growing cities like Bellevue start to seek their own source of drinking water.

“We could use water even more efficiently, and I would love to see that before we turn to new sources,” said Richard Palmer, a University of Washington engineering professor who helped build some of the computer models used for the water research.

“But, at some point, if population doubles in this region, there’s not sufficient stored water right now to meet double the demand,” he said.

Smaller utilities or areas outside King, Snohomish and Pierce counties weren’t covered by the studies and the full impact of global warming in the region hasn’t been gauged. Plus the research didn’t examine how water supply from wells could be affected.

The studies found that by 2075 the three utilities of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett together could lose as much as 16 percent of its water supply or 77 million gallons a day compared with today’s supplies.

Seattle is more vulnerable – expected to lose as much as 25 percent – because it relies almost entirely on water from rivers, rather than groundwater. Those rivers won’t be able to fill reservoirs quickly while enough water volume is left flowing for fish, Palmer said.

Seattle is already working to change how it operates its reservoirs to get more water out of them, said Paul Fleming, manager of climate-change initiatives for Seattle Public Utilities.

That includes putting more water into two Cedar River reservoirs and taking more water from behind the dam on the south fork of the Tolt River.

“We’ve got these buckets, and we’re trying to use more of the buckets,” Fleming said of the reservoirs.


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