Palouse Water Conservation Network

Thompson Rezone Water Demand

Comprehensive Plan Requirements

The Comprehensive Plan at Sections 2 and 8 requires evaluation of the City’s ability to provide water to developments. Section 2, Objective 8, states: “Maintain the quantity and quality of water in the Moscow-Pullman Water Basin.” The PBAC agreement, described in the following section, provides the basis for determining how to achieve this Plan requirement. Section 8 of the Comprehensive Plan in the general discussion reads: “Future planning decisions concerning any new development in the Moscow area should consider the amount of water to be used by the development, the nature of the water use, and the source of the water supply.”

PBAC Agreement

Under the Palouse Basin Aquifer agreement entered into by the City in 1992, the City agreed to limit annual increases in groundwater pumping to 1% of volume annually. It also agreed to an absolute cap on total pumping at 875 million gallons per year (MGY).

Water Use

From 1994 to 2003, Moscow exceeded its 1% annual growth limit and from 1998-2003 its 875 MGY cap.

In response to a 2003 petition to IDWR that in part questioned the city’s ability to meet the agreed to PBAC goals, Moscow took several conservation steps to reduce pumping. As a result, overall water use in Moscow declined from 919 MG in 2003 to 809 MG in 2004. In 2005, Moscow pumping increased to 819 MG. For the first time since entering into the agreement in 1992, Moscow is currently in compliance with both its 1% annual growth limit and its absolute cap.

“Unfunded Water Liability”

Below is a table of platted but not yet improved lots based on a map generated by Latah County’s GIS system. The table collates this information and projects water demand based on actual city per capita water usage.

There is a small degree of uncertainty in the data as the county tax system often lags behind on the ground reality depending on when the improvement is reported to the County. Some of the lots depicted as unimproved may at this time have houses or apartment blocks on them, built in the past year. These units are, for the most part, not yet fully accounted for in the 2005 pumping volumes as they are new construction. Likewise, there are other parcels that are likely to have been added to this category as approved subdivisions are platted particularly in the Salisbury and Pope’s Third additions. Commercial lots are shown but not individually calculated as water consumption by business type can vary dramatically. Instead, for purposes of estimation, commercial growth is assumed to reflect the current mix of business types in Moscow. Commercial water demand is included in the per capita ratio of total City pumping of just over 100 gallons per year per person used in the table below.

These lots are available for development without any further review other than a building permit. They have a right of use. The unfunded water liability is an additional 17% above 2005 pumping volumes. This number does not include irrigation water for the new City ball fields along Palouse River Drive.

Proposed Rezone

The developer, on page 6 of his application, forecasts full build out at 1.5 million square foot of commercial space. The applicant predicts water useage based on full build out at over 62 MGY. Full build out will increase water pumped by 7.6% above current levels. This development alone will cause the City to violate the 1% annual increase and will also cause the City to exceed its absolute cap of 875 MGY.

Unfunded Water Liability and Proposed Development.

If approved, the total of the unfunded water liability and the proposed rezone would create a water budget deficit of 200 million gallons per year or 25% above current pumping volumes.

Available Water Quantity

Static water levels in the City’s main pumping well continue to decline even with the conservation savings that have been garnered by Moscow citizens and businesses. The static water level in the City’s most productive well, Well# 9, fell another 1.1’ in 2005 continuing its unrelenting downward trend of 1-2’/yr. Wells #2 and #3 fell over 5’ in the same period. Wells #6 and #8 show a stabilizing trend, but they have seen significantly reduced pumping due to municipal piping issues.

There is currently an existing unfunded water liability of over 140 million gallons per year. The proposed rezone would increase that by another 62 million gallons per year. Declining groundwater levels are not an issue that a developer can mitigate. There is no known mechanism of recharge for our deep aquifer. Once the water is gone, it is gone.

Submitted by,

Dianne French, Secretary, Palouse Water Conservation Network

Water Liability Table
Zoning Designation Platted Lots Water Demand
R1/R2 (single family*) 270 lots 4 people/lot x 104 gpd x 365d = 41 MGY
R4 large (high density**) 11 lots 48 people/lot x 104 gpd x 365d = 20 MGY
R4 small (high density***) 5 lots 12 people/lot x 104 gpd x 365d = 2.3 MGY
R3(duplexes****) 13 lots 12 people/lot x 104 gpd x 365d = 5.9 MGY
Total Water Demand   69.2

69.2 MGY = 8.5% increase in Moscow pumping above 2005 levels

Platted Lots - Latah County Tax Code Category Map, 4/2006 and Moscow Zoning Map 6/2005

gallons per minute (gpd): 2005 total Moscow pumping of 819 MG/21,700 people/365 = 104 gpd. The actual amount used at new houses/developments is generally higher than the city average as newly planted landscaping is established. Commercial use is included in the total pumped and is assumed to maintain a steady ratio of increase based in population increases.

2005 levels - This is the amount of water obligated by the City to provide water to developable lots or recently developed lots not included in 2005 pumping figures. The calculated number does not include the additional liability of approved but not yet platted lots i.e., Salisbury and Pope’s 3rd Additions. Additional liability for yet un-platted lots at Salisbury alone is estimated to raise the water liability another 5% based on the developers site plan reviewed and approved by Council in February 2004. A conservative estimate of total “unfunded” water liability is twice that calculated from the 2006 plat map or 17% above 2005 volumes.

* for estimation purposes: 4-person household, 1 house/lot
** for estimation purposes: eight-unit bldg, 1.5 person/unit, 4 units/lot
*** for estimation purposes: eight-unit bldg, 1.5 person/unit, 1 unit/lot
**** for estimation purposes: 2-unit bldg, 3 people/unit, 2 unit/lot
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