North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Tribes celebrate new pipeline

The water pipeline between Tulalip and the city of Everett can provide up to 30 million gallons per day

 

Christopher Andersson

The Tulalip Tribes celebrated on April 28 the completion of a new pipeline from Everett that will serve the Tribes' water needs for possibly the next 100 years. The pipeline connects to Everett's water system on Smith Island and provides up to 30 million gallons per day. "We have secured water for our people and our future generations for the next hundred years," said Marie Zackuse, chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes. Most estimates have Tulalip using only a fraction of the 30 million gallons per day that the pipeline can provide, but one of the main advantages for the Tribes is that they will not have to rely on their water table any longer. "Our precious aquifer, once used to supply homes and businesses, will be to supply the Tulalip Hatchery instead," said Zackuse. "By preserving this precious resource we are defending our life ways, our culture and our identity. If we cannot provide clean freshwater spawning habitat, there will be no salmon," she said. Zackuse said the pipeline helped the Tribes "to build our own infrastructure, to fight for our salmon, to build a strong tribal economy and provide services and opportunity for our people." Teri Gobin, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes, added that it will help the area continue to grow, as well as the area's water needs are easier to meet. "This will help to continue with the future of economic development," she said. The project has already helped some local construction businesses grow, she said. "It brought our contractors work, we helped provide the workforce," said Gobin. The pipeline project has been in the works since 2003. "The two governments [Everett and Tulalip], prior to 2003, had a relationship that was often characterized by tension and conflict," said Zackuse. "For us, much of that conflict was about the fact that the Sultan River Dam had made miles of the upper Sultan River inaccessible to spawning fish," she said. Herman Williams Jr., chairman of the Tribes at the time that negotiations started, said that it was a long negotiation for the water pipeline. "The meetings went on forever, as meetings do. I can't recall how many years we were in this mitigation, but it was lengthy. And during that time, we got to sit down with one another, break bread," he said. "We come to find that he wasn't much different than me, and I wasn't much different from him. We all shared the same goal of the betterment of our people," he said. Williams said it was nice to see more cooperation between the Tribes and their neighbors. "I can't tell you how good it feels that we're no longer taking them to court as much," he said. Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who has been a part of the negotiations since nearly the start, said that the process was about trust. He also said he was glad to see the project actually finished while he was still mayor. "I lost my father earlier this year, and from the time I can remember he talked about the injustice that happened to Native American people, and I never really thought I would have the opportunity to right a wrong, and this agreement really helped right a wrong," he said. Zackuse said she was glad past and current leaders worked together to make the pipeline possible. "This willingness to sit down and listen to each other, and to collaborate, has led to a better future for both communities. Today we consider the city of Everett a partner," she said. The contract approved by the Everett City Council lasts for 50 years and automatically renews for another 50 years unless both Everett and the Tulalip Tribes decide to end the agreement. Tulalip is paying the same rate as other wholesale customers for Everett do, however Everett is not able to charge or pass along any state utility tax in recognition of tribal sovereignty. Tulalip Tribal Board member Mel Sheldon said many people helped make the pipeline happen. "It was a cast of a lot of people who came together over a long time to make this happen," he said. He thanked staff from the city of Everett, Tulalip Tribal officials, port of Everett officials and many local contractors and suppliers.

The Tulalip Tribes celebrated on April 28 the completion of a new pipeline from Everett that will serve the Tribes' water needs for possibly the next 100 years.

The pipeline connects to Everett's water system on Smith Island and provides up to 30 million gallons per day.

"We have secured water for our people and our future generations for the next hundred years," said Marie Zackuse, chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes.

Most estimates have Tulalip using only a fraction of the 30 million gallons per day that the pipeline can provide, but one of the main advantages for the Tribes is that they will not have to rely on their water table any longer.

"Our precious aquifer, once used to supply homes and businesses, will be to supply the Tulalip Hatchery instead," said Zackuse.

"By preserving this precious resource we are defending our life ways, our culture and our identity. If we cannot provide clean freshwater spawning habitat, there will be no salmon," she said.

Zackuse said the pipeline helped the Tribes "to build our own infrastructure, to fight for our salmon, to build a strong tribal economy and provide services and opportunity for our people."

Teri Gobin, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes, added that it will help the area continue to grow, as well as the area's water needs are easier to meet.

"This will help to continue with the future of economic development," she said.

The project has already helped some local construction businesses grow, she said. "It brought our contractors work, we helped provide the workforce," said Gobin.

The pipeline project has been in the works since 2003.

"The two governments [Everett and Tulalip], prior to 2003, had a relationship that was often characterized by tension and conflict," said Zackuse.

"For us, much of that conflict was about the fact that the Sultan River Dam had made miles of the upper Sultan River inaccessible to spawning fish," she said.

Herman Williams Jr., chairman of the Tribes at the time that negotiations started, said that it was a long negotiation for the water pipeline.

"The meetings went on forever, as meetings do. I can't recall how many years we were in this mitigation, but it was lengthy. And during that time, we got to sit down with one another, break bread," he said.

"We come to find that he wasn't much different than me, and I wasn't much different from him. We all shared the same goal of the betterment of our people," he said.

Williams said it was nice to see more cooperation between the Tribes and their neighbors.

"I can't tell you how good it feels that we're no longer taking them to court as much," he said.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who has been a part of the negotiations since nearly the start, said that the process was about trust.

He also said he was glad to see the project actually finished while he was still mayor.

"I lost my father earlier this year, and from the time I can remember he talked about the injustice that happened to Native American people, and I never really thought I would have the opportunity to right a wrong, and this agreement really helped right a wrong," he said.

Zackuse said she was glad past and current leaders worked together to make the pipeline possible.

"This willingness to sit down and listen to each other, and to collaborate, has led to a better future for both communities. Today we consider the city of Everett a partner," she said.

Christopher Andersson

Tulalip Tribal Chairwoman Marie Zackuse talks about the Tribes' water needs on April 28 during a celebration of the new pipeline between the Tulalip Tribes and the city of Everett.

The contract approved by the Everett City Council lasts for 50 years and automatically renews for another 50 years unless both Everett and the Tulalip Tribes decide to end the agreement.

Tulalip is paying the same rate as other wholesale customers for Everett do, however Everett is not able to charge or pass along any state utility tax in recognition of tribal sovereignty.

Tulalip Tribal Board member Mel Sheldon said many people helped make the pipeline happen.

"It was a cast of a lot of people who came together over a long time to make this happen," he said.

He thanked staff from the city of Everett, Tulalip Tribal officials, port of Everett officials and many local contractors and suppliers.

 

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