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Good News on Hirst!

The Governor has signed SB6091, a REALTOR® supported bill written to fix the State Supreme Court’s Hirst Growth Management Act decision regarding water availability for new private wells.
Hirst-Web

The Governor has signed SB6091, a REALTOR® supported bill, to fix the State Supreme Court’s Hirst Growth Management Act decision regarding water availability for new private wells. 



The final Hirst legislation includes the following components:

  • For local building permit and subdivision decisions, local governments do not have to review new exempt wells for “impairment” of instream flows. This reverses the basic legal conclusion of the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision.
  • For projects in basins with Ecology-adopted exempt well limits or mitigation requirements, those rules still govern.  In other basins, specific allowances for new wells are created in statute.  The limit is 950 gallons per day average annual use per connection; other basins are up to 3,000 gallons per day; while other basins (non-GMA counties or areas with no instream flow rules) can again operate under the 5,000 gallon per day exempt well limit.
  • Certain areas of state are excluded from the bill and thus these exempt well allowances:  the Skagit Basin, and the Yakima Basin (Kittitas, Yakima, and parts of Benton County). 
  • Existing wells are grandfathered, and deemed to have satisfied the requirement to have a legal water supply under the State Building Code.
  • The bill allows local governments to rely on existing Department of Ecology rules for purposes of meeting the requirements of the Growth Management Act. 
  • There are no new mitigation or metering requirements tied to well construction or new building permits, and there is a one-time fee of $500.

Additionally:

  • Local committees are established to identify projects to offset impacts to instream flows.  The scope and composition of these committees varies by whether the county completed a Watershed Plan under the state’s Watershed Planning Act.  Local committees may recommend rulemaking changes to Ecology, but the committees themselves are not regulatory.  Ecology retains its current rulemaking authority.
  • $300 million ($20 million per year over 15 years) is allocated to fund projects and local planning efforts to restore instream flows and aquatic habitat.
  • Certain cities and water purveyors are allowed to proceed with water rights permitting, and a Legislative Task Force is established to make recommendations on how new water rights for municipal uses can be mitigated.

The attached table, prepared by the Washington Water Policy Alliance, has a basin-by-basin breakdown of the applicable exempt well allowances.

Questions on the Hirst Decision?
Email Bill Clarke, Director of Public Policy
Washington REALTORS®


 

WRIA disposition in Proposed SSB 6091

Source: Prepared by WWPA - January 18, 2018

#

WRIA name

ISF status

Exempt

Limit on GPD

1

Nooksack

Pre 1990

 

Up to 3,000 gpd

2

San Juan

None

 

 

3

Lower Skagit Samish

Post 2001 (really pre - reverted to old rule)

Yes - Ct. Dec.

 

4

Upper Skagit

Post 2001 (really pre - reverted to old rule)

Yes - Ct. Dec.

 

5

Stillaguamish

NEW

 

 

6

Island

None

 

 

7

Snohomish

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

8

Cedar Sammamish

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

9

Duwamish Green

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

10

Puyallup White

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

11

Nisqually

Pre 1990

 

Up to 3,000 gpd

12

Chamber Clover

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

13

Deschutes

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

14

Kennedy Goldsborough

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

15

Kitsap

Pre 1990

 

950 gpd

16

Skokomish Dosewallips

None

 

 

17

Quilcene Snow

NEW

 

 

18

Elwah Dungeness

NEW

 

 

19

Lyre Hoko

None

 

 

20

Soleduc

None

 

 

21

Queets Quinault

None

 

 

22

Lower Chehalis

Pre 1990

 

Up to 3,000 gpd

23

Upper Chehalis

Pre 1990

 

Up to 3,000 gpd

24

Willapa

None

 

 

25

Grays Elokoman

Proposed

 

 

26

Cowlitz

Proposed

 

 

27

Lewis

NEW

 

 

28

Salmon Washougal

NEW

 

 

29

Wind White Salmon

None

 

 

30

Klickitat

None

 

 

31

Rock Glade

None

 

 

32

Walla Walla

NEW

 

 

33

Lower Snake

None

 

 

34

Palouse

None

 

 

35

Middle Snake

None

 

 

36

Esquatzel Coulee

None

 

 

37

Lower Yakima

Adjudicated

Adjudicated

 

38

Naches

Adjudicated

Adjudicated

 

39

Upper Yakima

Adjudicated

Adjudicated

 

40

Alkaki Squilchuck

None

 

 

41

Lower Crab

None

 

 

42

Grand Coulee

None

 

 

43

Upper Crab Wilson

None

 

 

44

Moses Coulee

None

 

 

45

Wenatchee

NEW

 

 

46

Entiat

NEW

 

 

47

Chelan

None

 

 

48

Methow

NEW

 

 

49

Okanogan

Pre 1990

 

Up to 3,000 gpd

50

Foster

None

 

 

51

Nespelem

None

 

 

52

Sanpoil

None

 

 

53

Lower Lake Roosevelt

None

 

 

54

Lower Spokane

None

 

 

55

Little Spokane

Pre 1990

 

Up to 3,000 gpd

56

Hangman

None

 

 

57

Middle Spokane

NEW

 

 

58

Middle Lake Roosevelt

None

 

 

59

Colville

Pre 1990

 

Up to 3,000 gpd

60

Kettle

None

 

 

61

Upper Lake Roosevelt

None

 

 

62

Pend Oreille

None

 

 



LEGEND

BLUE

NEW ISF rules (post 2001) - will follow restrictions in current Ecology rules

YELLOW

OLD instream flow rules that have a watershed plan and will use watershed planning format for recommendations

GREEN

OLD instream flow rules that do not have a watershed plan or have a partial plan and will use Watershed Restoration and Enhancement Committees for recommendations

 

GREY

 

WRIAs that are exempt from coverage in bill

NO COLOR

No instream flow rule and no restrictions under bill - can use current law – up to 5,000 gpd



WRIAs that have gallon restrictions are noted in last column – limits include indoor and outdoor use

Link to Ecology’s instream flow map.

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