When the Supreme Court issued their opinion in the case Whatcom County vs. Hirst, it not only put the responsibility of determining the permitting for residential wells on the county, it set a precedent for how water rights would be handled statewide, threatening to halt all construction involving the use of residential wells.
While the intention was to protect fish, wildlife and recreation, small family wells account for less than 1 percent of Washington’s water consumption.
However, the impact to rural Washington will be devastating. Families will not be able to build homes on the land they’ve purchased, which will cause the property values to plummet and will undermine revenue collected to fulfill what the Supreme Court has ruled is our paramount duty — fully funding education.
We have heard testimony from people who were counting on building a home and now will lose everything because all the money they invested in their dream will be lost. How do you recover from that? How do you sell land that is effectively worthless for any kind of residential development? Where can families turn?
Sen. Warnick, R-Moses Lake, sponsored Senate Bill 5239 which would change the law so that regulations would revert back to what they were before the Hirst decision. It would protect Washington’s rural communities, including the workers and businesses that would suffer from the halt in construction. SB 5239 passed out of the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 28-21.
Unfortunately, the House Democrats refused to even hear the bill in committee, killing the bill before the House could vote on it. Why would they do that to rural communities? Why would they hurt the families that occupy most of Washington state?
To learn more about the Hirst decision and how it is affecting the state, go to www.FixHirst.com.