Senate Amends SB 6091 (Hirst) UPDATED

Today, January 13, 2018, the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee SB 6091 is amended and can be seen here:  It is now in the Rules committee, where it will either languish and compete with other "Hirst Fix" bills, or will be voted in Rules to go to the Senate floor for a vote.  

A close read of the bill seems to say watersheds allow for exempt well law to be applied, except for many rules and/or conditions to be set by a future set of committees to be created on a watershed basin basis composed of tribes, Washington fish and wildlife, county government, city government, irrigators, public water purveyors, and the construction industry.  Not various agricultural interests, not a property rights advocate organization, such as CAPR, or not even individual property owners residing in the basin who have had their water rights stolen.  This as yet to be created committee structure would be called a "watershed restoration and enhancement" committee.  

As you will see watching TVW, this is not a picture of a bunch of happy campers.  Senate kumbaya was certainly lacking!  And it is doubtful there will be many happy campers after reading the amended bill.  Senator McCoy promised a competing bill just to add that last touch of comraderie to the executive session.

The amending language is not in the form of legislative directive describing a definate legislative intent, is in places vague and open-ended, and includes a lot of mays rather than musts.  Ecology will skip away with an additional 100 million dollars on the premise they will begin the work they were asking for in the original bill.  There is still much in the way of mitigation, and rather than the original 350 gallons which turned into 400 gallons of domestic use per family the offer is 950 gallons averaged over a year that is offered to replace your exempt well use with its legal limit of 5000 gallons of water.  This new offer of 950 is not guarenteed, but is instead tied to the In Stream Flow Rules, does not seem to be available to Skagit County, and is dependent upon decision making based on the musings of Water Restoration and Enhancement (WRE) plan committees, which will not present a plan to Ecology until the summer of 2021.  So, maybe sometime after that your exempt well rights might apply, if a decision is made, and it can be restricted to no more than 950 gallons a day.  But don't worry, this fuzzy fix will only cost 300 million dollars, and then habitat plans might go into effect that can improve fish life. With this bill, you will not begin to lay the foundation of your home anytime soon.

Over all it seems this must have been a grueling negotiation session to produce this product, but sadly, it is still constitutionally and legally substandard.  CAPR recommends civil, polite phone calls and emails to your representatives which will offer your opinion on the amended bill.

The citizens of this state were promised a fight, and it is suspected that many and most will reject this amended bill as does CAPR.

All legislative emails are in this format:

Here is a link to the CAPR Legislative Flyer Suggested Corrections for Hirst


January 12, 2018