KENNEWICK, Wash., Aug. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Two expert attorneys have independently written/issued two recent separate legal opinions questioning the legality of the water service contracts (and more specifically the "development fees" in those contracts) being issued by the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) to Odessa Aquifer Irrigators.
In particular, both opinions strongly conclude that the ECBID is illegally charging irrigators/landowners excessive and arbitrary annual "development fees" which have no tangible bearing or relation associated with water delivery to the ground being served.
The legal opinions also challenge the legality and legitimacy of the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District's development fee as part of its very expensive and highly questionable normalization and bonding proposal for bringing surface water from the East Low Canal to Odessa Subarea deep well irrigators. In effect, where landowners are directly building irrigation distribution systems off of the East Low Canal with their own capital resources, the ECBID is illegally attaching "development fees".
Additionally, the opinions assert that the ECBID's "development fee" for Odessa Aquifer Irrigators/Landowners is fraudulent and contrary to the law which governs the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District. Moreover, the ECBID is charging the initial landowners five or more times more than any amount associated with the costs incurred to benefit them and such a charge appears part of the ECBID's general campaign against landowners building their own privately funded distribution systems.
Furthermore, one of the legal opinions state that the minutes from a November 21, 2014 meeting of the ECBID Board of Directors show that the Board disregarded or rejected ECBID attorney Richard Lemargie's legal advice when it approved the excessive annual $120 per acre per year development fee. According to the minutes, Lemargie commented that the development fee needed to have some kind of definition. He also stated the development fee is to have a reasonable basis and have a cost in common throughout the project - that being the widening of the East Low Canal (which would only result in about a $20 to $25 per acre annual development fee). Regardless, against its legal counsel's advice, the ECBID began imposing the undefined and arbitrary $120 per acre annual fee and invoicing landowners who signed new water service contracts.
According to attorney James Buchal (who wrote one of the legal opinions), "The US Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Ecology should be very concerned about involvement in a process in which the Irrigation District is likely have acted arbitrarily and fraudulently."
Likewise, this illegal development charge further justifies why CSRIA and the Odessa Aquifer Irrigators have consistently opposed the ECBID's plan (click on the links below) and are supporting the Privately Funded Project for the Odessa Aquifer.
For more information, please contact Darryll Olsen at 509-783-1623 or Email.
The Odessa Aquifer Privately Funded Project has been widely endorsed by many newspapers and decision-makers as a viable, cost-effective and realistic option to immediately begin replacing the use of groundwater from the declining Odessa Subarea Aquifer.
Following are recent editorials endorsing/supporting the privately funded/financed project:
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/east-columbia-basin-irrigation-districts-development-fees-to-odessa-aquifer-landowners-deemed-unlawful--illegal-300132829.html
SOURCE Odessa Aquifer Irrigators; CSRIA