Save household wells!

Watch this space for news about the Senate’s effort to prevent an artificial water shortage created by a recent state Supreme Court decision.

The court’s decision in Hirst v. Whatcom County took away the right of rural property owners to develop small household-sized wells without enormous and costly bureaucratic burdens. Here’s what the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus and House Republicans are doing to fix the problem:

Senate proposal:

  • Senate Bill 5239 – comprehensive fix to problem — cosponsors include Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

Passed full Senate Feb. 28, 28-21. Hearing scheduled in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee March 28 at 10 a.m.

House proposals:

  • House Bill 1459 – would have required state and local governments to consider actual groundwater impact — sponsored by Vincent Buys, R-Lynden; co-sponsors included Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden.

Killed in House: These proposals did not receive votes before deadlines for the passage of bills from House committees.

  • House Bill 1459 – would have required state and local governments to consider actual groundwater impact — sponsored by Vincent Buys, R-Lynden; co-sponsors included Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden.
  • House Bill 1460would have made water rights transfers easier – sponsored by Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, co-sponsors included Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden.
  • House Bill 1348 – would have given users first priority for water — co-sponsors included Vincent Buys, R-Lynden.
  • House Bill 1349 – would have declared small wells have minimal impact — co-sponsors included Vincent Buys, R-Lynden.
  • House Bill 1382 – would have prohibited denial of small-well permits without good reason — co-sponsors included Vincent Buys, R-Lynden.

Feb. 28: Bill saving household wells passes Senate

To see video of debate, click here.

A bill protecting the rights of property owners to drill wells and build on their own land passed the full Senate Tuesday night. Our plan, Senate Bill 5239, would restore the rules that existed before a state Supreme Court decision last fall imposed enormous burdens on rural landowners who seek building permits. The Senate stood up for property owners and property rights with a vote of 28-21. Now it’s up to the state House to do the same.

To see video, click here.

 

 

See my speech: The household-well issue has been one of my top priorities since the session began. In my floor speech, I talked about the frustration of thousands of property owners who purchased land with the understanding they would be able to build.

Feb. 23: Senate plan to save household wells moves forward

To watch this vote, click here.

The Senate’s plan to save household wells received an important OK Thursday from the Senate Ways and Means Committee. There’s just one more stop, the Senate Rules Committee, before the bill receives a vote on the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 5239 restores the right of rural property owners to develop small, family-sized wells without enormous bureaucratic burdens.

Feb. 21: Hearing makes compelling case for household wells, property owners

The Senate’s effort to save household wells was highlighted at a hearing Feb. 21 before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Property owners from Whatcom County and elsewhere said they have been devastated by the Supreme Court’s decision last fall that took away their right to drill wells — and with it, their right to build.
You can see the full hearing by clicking here. For highlights, click on links below.

 

Sue Croft, Bellingham

“We purchased a piece of property and closed in September. …We were ready to go for a building permit, and then the Hirst decision came down Oct. 6. …Now we have a pretty much worthless piece of property.”

 

 

Glen Morgan, Citizens Alliance for Property Rights

“There are tens of thousands of people who don’t even know yet that they’ve been harmed.”

 

 

 

Zach Nutting, Whatcom County

“I am begging you, literally begging you to pass this bill. I deserve to build the house I set out [to build].”

 

 
Laura Berg, Washington State Association of Counties

Skagit County’s experience:

— $20 million in lost property value 

$270,000 in property taxes shifted to other taxpayers$157 million in lost construction

“We think this is coming to a county near you.”