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In brief: Interior Department says no to federal irrigation water for marijuana growing

The U.S. Interior Department said Tuesday it doesn’t want federal irrigation water being used to grow marijuana in Washington, Colorado or anywhere else.

But the practical effects of the policy are limited: The Bureau of Reclamation said only that it would refer any violations to the Justice Department, and it seems unlikely that the Justice Department would target irrigation districts for supplying the water when it’s not going after the people who are actually growing the pot.

“We’re not an investigative agency. We’re an agency that provides water to irrigation districts,” said Dan DuBray, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington, D.C. “The limit of our proactive stance is that if asked, we’re not approving it, and if we become aware of it, we report it.”

Reclamation provides irrigation water in 17 states, mostly in the West.

The bureau operates giant dams and vast networks of canals that provide water through much of the arid West. That includes the mammoth Columbia Basin Project in Eastern Washington, which provides water for more than 600,000 acres of apples, potatoes, wine grapes and other crops.

Explosion victims can get feds’ help

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee said the federal government has approved his request for an emergency declaration to help businesses and residents in North Bend who were affected by an April 25 explosion.

Inslee thanked the Small Business Administration and its administrator on Tuesday for approving the request he made last week.

The declaration clears the way for low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations. The governor urged anyone affected to contact SBA representatives in the area.

The explosion and fire affected nearly 30 businesses and homes.

Skiffs wash ashore from 2011 tsunami

SEATTLE – More than three years after the tsunami hit Japan, evidence of the disaster continues to haunt the West Coast, where residents know they also are vulnerable.

A skiff that was once used by someone near Sendai washed ashore in January on the Washington coast near Westport, the state Ecology Department said.

Scraping away years of seaweed growth revealed a number that was tracked with the help of the Japanese Consulate back to the Miyagi Prefecture, where Sendai is the capital.

“The former owner does not desire to have it returned,” said Ecology spokeswoman Linda Kent.

Two similar skiffs covered in seaweed and barnacles were found April 23 at Long Beach and April 28 at Ocean Shores. The Long Beach skiff has no identifying information and has been disposed of, but the Ocean Shores skiff had some markings. It’s being held at Ocean City State Park while the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration try to identify it through the Japanese consulate, Kent said.

It takes quite a bit of detective work to confirm whether debris is likely from the March 2011 tsunami, Kent said. The skiff that was found Jan. 15 was confirmed May 9.