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Skagit County Backs Away from Water Fight

Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon, Wash.

By KATE MARTIN | Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 6:00 am

MOUNT VERNON — Skagit County will no longer spend money to defend rural water users’ rights in court, a county commissioner said Monday.

The commissioners sent a letter to Department of Ecology officials last week that notes that the county has no actual authority in controlling water and no obligation or right to negotiate property interests for landowners. While the letter does not state specifically that the county will back off of participating in the legal disputes, Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt said that is the intent.

The county has spent millions of dollars and in more than a decade of legal and political wrangling over water.

Skagit County Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt said Monday that some of those property owners have been frustrated that the county won’t issue  building permits in that low-flow basin. Many don’t understand the county’s role.

“All we are is the messenger, and a lot of times if the message is bad news, they kill the messenger,” Dahlstedt said. “If by stepping back, we can help de-escalate the battle, that’s what we are trying to do.”

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