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Sullivan Lake flows to allow development

Fri., Oct. 22, 2010

Water releases from Sullivan Lake will allow for more residential development in northeast Washington and provide additional stream flows for fish, wildlife and recreation.

The Washington Department of Ecology and Pend Oreille County Public Utility District will sign an agreement for the releases today in Newport.

The utility district agreed to release 14,000 acre feet of water from Sullivan Lake each summer, when the water is needed most. In return, the Ecology Department will make a one-time payment of $14 million to the district, which operates a dam that controls lake levels.

Sullivan Lake is near Metaline Falls, Wash. Water from the lake eventually flows into the Pend Oreille River, a tributary of the Columbia River.

Two-thirds of the water releases will be used for new water rights in Pend Oreille, Ferry, Lincoln, Douglas and Stevens counties. The new water rights will provide enough water for 23,500 new homes, Ecology officials said. The remaining flows will enhance habitat for fish, wildlife and recreation.

The $14 million comes from the Columbia River Basin Water Development Account. The state Legislature created the account in 2006 to pay for water projects.

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