LETTER:Water conservation

I read with interest the article about Sequim landowners opposing the piping of irrigation ditches as part of a water conservation effort for the Dungeness River.

In the late summer of 1987, while working for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, I personally measured water flows in the Dungeness River and the irrigation system to understand why salmon could not make it up the river to spawn.

At times, over 80 percent of the river was being withdrawn to feed hundreds of miles of leaky irrigation ditches.

The tribe and the Dungeness Water Users Association sought cooperative solutions that would enable both fish and farms to survive in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

Water conservation efforts, many of them focused on piping ditches, have resulted in significantly higher summer stream flows in the Dungeness River.

When Puget Sound Chinook salmon were listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act in 1999 this local cooperative effort was already well underway and became part of the recovery plan.

Some of the remaining open irrigation ditches are attractive amenities for adjacent property owners, but they drain the life’s blood of water for endangered salmon, as well as collecting polluted runoff from upstream development.

It is my hope that opponents of piping these ditches will cooperate with the Clallam Conservation District and local farmers, and join the effort to promote water conservation for Dungeness salmon.

Ann Seiter