Politics & Government

SOUTH SOUND: State delays brewery water rights decision

The state Department of Ecology needs more time to decide whether to transfer water rights belonging to the former Olympia Brewery to the county’s three largest cities.

Ecology staff had 45 days, or until Friday, to make a decision after receiving the tentative determination by the Thurston County Water Conservancy Board.

The extension is for 30 days, but Kim Schmanke, an agency spokesman, said staff members are confident they’ll make a decision “well ahead” of the new deadline in early October.

The volunteer board determined that the three cities should receive one-third of the water rights held by the brewery, with the remainder being relinquished to the state because it wasn’t used for five consecutive years. The brewery closed in June 2003.

The three cities moved to condemn the water rights in 2006 and paid the property owner, Well B Ng LLC, $5.3 million for the water rights and land for a wellfield.

The cities plan to use the water to serve their growing communities.