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Emily Tasaka                                                Kara Raftery (Zupke)
Public Information Office                            Communications and Special Projects Manager
Department of Ecology                               City of Leavenworth
509.571.0352                                               509.548.5275 ext. 136
[email protected]                            [email protected]


LEAVENWORTH, WA, December 13, 2023 – The City of Leavenworth and the Washington State Department of Ecology reached a settlement agreement in November, forging a path forward to resolve a decade-long dispute over the City’s water rights. For the past ten years, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the City of Leavenworth have been utilizing the Icicle Work Group Process as a non-litigation alternative to 1) find water supply and water saving solutions in the Icicle Creek Basin; and 2) as an avenue for settling an appeal previously filed by the City. The referenced appeal pertained to a dispute over 721 acre-feet/year (AFY) of available domestic water associated with the City’s water right portfolio.

The Icicle Work Group is a non-governmental forum consisting of local, state and federal agencies, water purveyors, tribes, and other interested parties relating to water resources in the Icicle Creek Basin. Due to the complexities of water issues facing the basin and the wide range of stakeholder interests, the process was arduous. Since beginning the “Icicle Strategy,” the City and Ecology have engaged in direct settlement negotiations to avoid further litigation. This has been done through collaborating on water supply development through the Icicle Strategy and its partners.

For example, the City has directly benefited from the Icicle Strategy, with the Icicle Work Group recently awarding the City more than $580,000 to investigate the feasibility of transferring its Icicle Creek surface water rights to groundwater sources near the Wenatchee River, developing a Conservation and Drought Plan for the City, pursing leak detection services, and contributing toward a utility rate study. The Icicle Work Group also contributed to the City’s smart water meter project and supported the fish screen replacement project in the past.  

“This settlement marks a significant milestone in the City’s continuous journey to secure water rights. Our collaborative efforts with the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Icicle Work Group have not only led to innovative water supply solutions but also fostered a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.” stated Mayor Carl Florea, “We are proud of the progress we’ve made and are committed to continuing our work to ensure a sustainable water future for Leavenworth. Our ultimate goal remains clear – to expand the City’s ability to serve future growth while preserving the health of our precious water resources. We are grateful for the support and partnership of all stakeholders involved in this process and look forward to our continued collaboration.”

Both Ecology and the City desire to continue their cooperative efforts directly through the Icicle Process with regards to planning and financing City water use efficiency projects and ultimately carrying out the water right permitting process of the IPID project, in lieu of continuing litigation of the previous appeal.

“Since convening the Icicle Work Group, Ecology has advocated for collaborative water management solutions in the Icicle Creek Basin. This settlement exemplifies that mission and marks an important achievement in our work to secure a drought resilient, climate responsive future,” said Tom Tebb, Director of Ecology’s Office of the Columbia River. “We appreciate the partnership of the City of Leavenworth and Icicle Strategy supporters that made this accomplishment possible. We remain committed to ensuring both people and the environment have the water they need, and we are eager to see future progress built off this success.”

Furthermore, both parties have mutually agreed to a continued relationship of cooperation and assistance toward the goal of enhancing the City’s water rights portfolio and/or financing permanent water use efficiency projects with the goal of permanently expanding the City’s ability to serve future growth.

If you have questions, or for more information, please contact Kara Raftery (Zupke) at [email protected] or Emily Tasaka at [email protected].


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