On August 27th, 2013 John Hutchings, City of Bellingham’s Asst. Public Works Director, shared Bellingham’s desire to put together a co-operative agreement to share water withdrawal at the City of Bellingham’s Middle Fork Diversion with the City of Lynden. Lynden, Washington, is the hub of agriculture in Whatcom County and needs to be able to assure the farmers of Lynden that they will have the water needed to produce their crops and sustain their farms. Whether their crop is animal or vegetable, they both need a guaranteed right of water and lots of it. The City of Bellingham currently has more rights to water than it uses and would like to combine their rights with Lynden, thus removing a lot of the uncertainty that currently hangs over the farmers in Whatcom County.
There’s just one problem. The Lummi Indian Business Council doesn’t approve. The excerpt below comes directly from a letter delivered to Mayor Linville, of Bellingham, from the Lummi Indian Business Council on August 30, 2013. Everything said prior to the use of the word however, is meant to placate the reader, but it’s what comes after the word that matters most:
It may be that a regional water supply with additional diversions might be part of the solution to the multitude of unpermitted withdrawals that have been reported throughout WRIA 1 and specifically documented in Lynden. however, until the Lummi Nation’s senior water rights are protected, the Lummi Nation will oppose proposed changes in the place of use of the City of Bellingham Middle Fork Nooksack River water right permit and will continue to urge you to defer your efforts to increase the number of withdrawal locations for this permit.
Those who have heard the interview with Mr. Hutchings and then read the response letter sent to Mayor Linville clearly understand their message:
The Lumni Nation wants to avoid litigation but will not avoid litigation. What comes after he “however” is always more important than what precedes it. A masterful use of the English language.
~ Kris HaltermanHutchings Interview Letter to Linville