Connell expects to have enough water rights soon to handle growth anticipated in the next two decades.
The city is finishing a $778,000 water rights purchase that officials said will secure the city's ability to provide water necessary for residential, commercial and industrial development.
The Department of Ecology recently approved the water rights transfer, which will allow the city to finish purchase of 1,579 acre-feet of water from farmer Mike Hardung, said Steve Taylor, city administrator.
Connell applied to the Franklin County Water Conservancy Board for the water rights transfer. The conservancy board forwards recommendations to Ecology, which has the final say.
Taylor said the city got an excellent price considering the location.
Connell's newest water rights are from a farm near Ritzville that also is within the Odessa Subarea Aquifer, said John Griffin, Franklin County Water Conservancy Board chairman. The city essentially received permission to draw water from the same aquifer at a different location.
The Odessa Subarea Aquifer has declining water levels, Griffin said. "It's an ancient body of water with no recharge to speak of," he said.
The city council authorized the purchase from Hardung in 2007, when the state was expanding Coyote Ridge Corrections Center and the city was planning for growth related to that expansion.
So far, growth was less than Connell anticipated, but Taylor said the city still expects to see more development as the economy improves.
"Connell is investing in its future," Taylor said.
Hardung has agreed to provide the city a loan with 5 percent interest, with annual payments and then a final payment of the remaining $507,000 in 2019, but Taylor said city staff will look for other financing options then.
Connell had water rights for 3,155 acre-feet of water until 2000, when the city got close to running out of enough water for city needs. That's when the city bought a farm within city boun-daries and the irrigation water rights attached to it, Taylor said.
Since then, the city has transferred about 276 acre-feet of the more than 1,600 that came with the farm into muni-cipal rights, which allows the city to use the water for municipal needs, he said.