Winter/Spring – 2018 (Article #1)
Relief from the restrictions of the Hirst ruling in October 2016 has finally come! This Washington Supreme Court decision dammed the flow of water from new wells, but it’s time to bathe in the refreshing good news from recent events.
In my winter newsletter of 2017, I wrote an article called “Water, water everywhere – not a drop to drill” and highlighted the effects a case called “The Hirst Decision”. Many landowners in GreenBluff and the Little Spokane Watershed (WRIA 55) could no longer fulfill their dream of building a home on their land, and they were left wondering if they could ever build because the ruling essentially put a kink in water availability by severely restricting or altogether preventing the drilling of new wells.
On Friday, January 19th, 2018, the Washington Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passed Senate Bill 6091, which was signed by the governor. The new law explains what an applicant for a building permit must do to demonstrate that water is legally available on their property. As a follow-up to this bill, the Spokane County Commissioners held a meeting on Tuesday, January 30th to consider repealing the interim water ordinance that was adopted to address the Hirst Decision. Mike Hermanson, Spokane County’s Water Resources Manager, addressed the commissioners with his support to repeal the restrictive ordinance and to allow for new wells to be drilled again. The commissioners unanimously voted to repeal the restrictive water ordinance, thus opening the flow of water again.
This recent vote now allows landowners to drill wells again and get building permits! How does all this play out going forward? Following is a summary directly from Spokane County’s recent news release:
- In the Little Spokane Watershed (WRIA 55) building permit applicants will fall into two categories:
- Those that will use a well drilled prior to 1/19/18 will need to provide a well log that demonstrates that the well was constructed before that date and complies with Washington State well & construction standards.
- Those that will use a well drilled after 1/19/18 will pay a $500 fee and have a restriction on domestic use of 3,000 gallons per day on an annual average, which will be recorded on the property title.
- Parcels over the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer (a portion of WRIA57) that will use a permit exempt well will utilize the water bank administered by the Washington Department of Ecology.
- In all other areas of Spokane County, the only requirement is a well log, and demonstration of sufficient water quantity and quality per Spokane Regional Health District.
If you’re interested in more details, you can find more information on the county’s website at: http://www.spokanecounty.org/1229/Rural-Water-Supply-Hirst-Decision