17 December 2013: The water level petition takes a big step forward

eyesI called and spoke with Assistant Attorney General Thomas Harnett this afternoon, he’s been handling the 2 Clary Lake petitions (the water level petition and Kelley’s petition for release from dam ownership or water level maintenance). It turns out that Mr. Harnett was in a car accident this past fall and he has been away from work for some time recovering. Apparently, the draft water level order has been sitting on his desk awaiting his return.

Mr. Harnett told me when we spoke today that he has recently returned to work and as of this morning had completed his review of the draft Clary Lake water level order and returned it to the Department. While Mr. Harnett didn’t know what the Department’s plans were, it is reasonable to assume now that AG review of the draft water level order is complete that there is little to stop the Department from issuing the water level order in short order. A number of sources have indicated the water level order could be issued any time including most recently Senator Christopher Johnson’s correspondence which cited the Senate Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, Senator Jim Boyle as saying that DEP Commissioner Aho had indicated the order would be released “in early December.” It would appear now that the hangup has been waiting for Mr. Harnett to return to work.

I did not ask Mr. Harnett for details of the water level order and he didn’t volunteer any. As I understand it, the Presiding Officer will issue the water level order as a Procedural Order and interested parties will be given an opportunity to review it and comment. From past experience I would expect the comment period to be at least 2 weeks and possibly as much as a month. That’s about as much speculation as I’m going to engage in just now.