Speak up for fairness and enviro-responsibility! Comment on City-Mill Water Lease Progress by July 31, 2021

The City of Port Townsend is developing a new contract to supply water to the Port Townsend Paper Corporation, and seeks your input by July 31, 2021.

So far the City has released the first five of eight white papers that explore issues around a potential contract.

The process will continue beyond that date, but your input now is important to shape the lease.
City of Port Townsend’s webpage, with background, timeline and white papers:
Background
Under four leases starting in 1928 the City of Port Townsend has provided water from its Olympic Gravity Water System (OGWS) to the Port Townsend Paper Corporation (PTPC) for up to 14 million gallons per day to run the mill’s kraft pulp production, compared with 1mgd total used by the remainder of the City’s customer base. The last of those leases expired in March 2020.
Payment Schedule and Maintenance Sharing 1928-2020
PT AirWatchers has located, analyzed and created a compact chart of the leases & payment schedules for water usage, system rent/maintenance, etc., from 1928 through 2020:
Among areas of concern
Through the leases, the City has been providing millions of dollars in subsidies annually to the mill in return for a 1928 loan of $800,000 (fully repaid) — first by offsetting the mill’s expenses for their contractual operation and maintenance (O&M) obligations against amounts owed for water system usage; then, at least since 1986 and possibly much earlier, the City eliminated all charges to the mill for 12-14 million gallons per day of water and water system usage.
This arrangement has effectively constituted the City giving away its “product” (water).
In O&M sharing, the leases disproportionately place responsibility for repair/maintenance/upkeep onto the City; the system is approximately 10x as large as would otherwise be needed, solely to benefit the mill, and proportionally increasing related costs; the City’s estimate of the value of the mill’s O&M contribution is a small fraction of the value of the water & water services that they receive.
No incentives in the leases existed for water conservation, habitat protection, or waste water reduction. These are being addressed in the current considerations, but need strong environmental voices to keep them adequate and relevant.
Oddly, in the current City white paper analyses, the City looks at ways to reduce need for such a large system while simultaneously looking at ways to increase water demand.
The mill has enjoyed favored treatment far beyond that of any other deserving and hard-working business in town. Its treatment needs to be brought into line with other businesses.
In response to public pressure, the City has embarked on a public process in developing a new lease agreement, which is supposed to take into account actual cost/value of the water, City growth plans, as well as a range of stakeholder impacts, and business, climate, and environmental considerations.
PT AirWatchers feels that it is important to fellow environmental advocates to see an agreement achieved that is more fairly balanced toward all other system customers and better takes into account the well being of the environment. It is an opportunity to bring an industry into better alignment with current environmental and social mores.
Thus we ask for your review and comment on the white papers and proposals so far, as well as providing further input to the City during the new lease development.
#PTPC #PortTownsendPaper #PortTownsendWA

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