Washington REALTORS® supports SB 5239 to help fix the Hirst decision.
The Hirst decision by the Washington Supreme Court is wrong. The Growth Management Act was never intended to require local governments to exceed Ecology's regulations. It will have an adverse impact all across our state. Many people depend on household wells to provide water supply - and to get their building permit approved. This Supreme Court decision shuts down our ability to drill a household well and build on property we own.
The Hirst decision will set up a new, costly regulatory system forcing homeowners to pay for an expensive consultant for every proposed new well to see if it makes even one molecule of difference in the streamflow of rivers and creeks. For many years, these wells were exempt from permit review because they are so small, and most water is recharged through septic systems back to groundwater. Even Ecology's own regulations acknowledge this. No more.
Now we face a significant negative impact to landowners, the construction industry, and local governments throughout Washington State:
- Anyone who wants to build a home in a rural area will be unable to do so because of water restrictions;
- Many property owners will suffer catastrophic economic losses;
- The collapse in value of rural properties will cause a huge shift in property tax burdens to urban residents;
- We already have a housing supply crisis in many urban parts of Washington State - we shouldn't let one happen in rural Washington too.