Tag Archives: City of Tacoma

Can the Cushman Dam dispute really be over?

It is rather mind-boggling to think that the city of Tacoma and the Skokomish Tribe have worked out their long-standing disagreements over the Cushman Dam Project. Yesterday, the parties signed a settlement agreement, as I explained in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

I have covered the Cushman battles for the Sun since I first arrived at the paper in 1977, nearly 32 years ago. While some stories never seem to end, I can’t think of any legal dispute that has taken half this long to be resolved — even those that I’ve followed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A story I wrote for the Sept. 27, 1999, edition started this way:

The future of Cushman Hydroelectric Project in southern Hood Canal remains tied up in court — and it’s a good bet that even King Solomon couldn’t settle this dispute.

Nobody is happy with the requirements of a new operating license issued last year by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Both the city of Tacoma, which owns the facility, and the Skokomish Tribe, which resides downstream, are suing to have the terms of the license changed.

And numerous state and federal agencies have become tangled in the controversy as they try to comply with provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

Now salmon — particularly those protected by federal law — are moving to the center of the relicensing battle, which has gone on for more than 25 years.

So, what are the details of this settlement — which is actually a series of documents signed by the city and tribe as well as state and federal agencies? You may wish to download the 260-page compiled settlement (PDF 5.6 mb), which I obtained yesterday, or read on for my expanded “summary” of the various documents.
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