Bear Mountain Water District: A response to Mr. Zimmerman (Op-Ed)
Opinion-Editorial – by Bob Jankelson
I returned from foreign travels to read my favorite source of local news on GoLakeChelan.com. To my surprise I read the following quote by a Mr. Chuck Zimmerman of Ogden, Nash, Murphy in an article entitled Upset Residents of Chelan’s Bear Mountain Water District address Board with concerns of proposed ULID: “Here we have 130 homes being charged $16,500 which is $2.1 million revenue source for this district in order to benefit this property right here (indicating the Tsillan Cellars property), that doesn’t have enough water rights, that doesn’t have enough fire flow or pressure, and that can’t get developed without having you help finance it.” Tsillan Cellars Owner Bob Jankelson was out of the country and not available for comment.
I am now available for comment. Before correcting the factual record regarding each of these statements I would like to clarify my position and roll as a former Bear Mountain Water District Board member. I agreed to serve on the Bear Mountain Water District Board (I’m a homeowner on Bear Mountain Ranch) last year because I felt that water issues are elemental to the future of our Valley. Recent devastation from wild fires (including waterfront homes), issues of water quality and reliability, lack of coherent water rights for many homes in the District, an existing water system with little or no redundancy and a water district with inadequate financial reserves suggest the need for a far sighted comprehensive proposal to address these deficiencies. Thus, Mr. Mark Peterson, legal counsel for Bear Mountain Water District drafted a comprehensive LID plan to present to the various stake holders. While out of the country during much of the recent response period it is obvious the political and emotional climate is adverse to undertaking such an ambitious project at this time. I subsequently resigned from the Board and withdrew my support for the comprehensive LID. The process worked.
Now the facts. Contrary to Mr. Zimmerman’s assertion that I do not have enough water rights you would only have to go to County records to discover that I have over 400 acre/feet of senior water rights for the 127 acre property. More than enough to serve any future needs for the entire South Shore. Where was Mr. Zimmerman’s due diligence prior to making such a specious mis-representation?
Mr. Zimmerman also stated I do not have enough fire flow or pressure. I built a 500,000 gallon fire reservoir for fire protection when I developed the property in 2003. Pressure is more than adequate and tested routinely by Chelan Fire District #7. This can also be found in the County public records.
Potable domestic water is provided to my South Shore properties by my upslope neighbors from the Little Butte Water District. They have been both reliable providers of water and wonderful neighbors. Despite agitated hysteria that I am motivated by the accusations in Mr. Zimmerman’s comments I do not have a dog in this fight. Little Butte Water District is my preferred potable water provider to my South Shore properties. My motivation to have my Lakeshore neighbors be extended the option of a comprehensive LID is for improved fire protection and assurance of water supply if DOH changes the regulatory statutes regarding direct withdrawal of water from the lake for domestic use. I was willing to pay my assessment even though I already have a domestic water source.
Mr. Zimmerman’s statement “..that can’t get developed without having you help finance it.” crosses the line from factual distortion to intentional inflammatory rhetoric. Those that know my involvement in this community are aware that I have never required or asked for my neighbors to pay for any project. Mr. Zimmerman statements represent either ignorance of the factual record or willful intent to malign. The facts he misrepresented were easily available to him prior to representing his clients at the meeting from which I was absent.
According to the GoLake Chelan article, Mr. Zimmerman questioned Mr. Peterson legal judgment regarding the LID process. Regardless of the merits of his argument regarding Mr. Peterson’s legal expertise I would suggest that Mr. Zimmerman get his facts correct before impugning my intent and character. Irresponsible rhetoric has no place in this community. I encourage Mr. Zimmerman or other concerned citizens to call me if have any questions.
Regardless of where my travels take me it is always special to be back in my beloved Chelan Valley and reading the latest Valley news on GoLakeChelan.com.
(By Bob Jankelson)