Olympia, Wa.- The Hirst rural water rights debate is over following action by the State Legislature late Thursday. The House and Senate have approved a compromise to address the controversial State Supreme Court ruling on water conservation. The bi-partisan bill relaxes the court-ordered regulations on small wells and spends $300 million on water conservation projects throughout the state.
State Lawmakers also passed a 4.3 billion dollar capital budget which had been held up by Republican lawmakers until the Hirst fix was completed. Governor Jay Inslee says he intends to sign both the Hirst legislation and the Construction budget as soon as they reach his desk.
The bill approved by the Legislature utilizes the existing water resource inventory areas (WRIAs) as a way of categorizing how decisions about water wells will be made. This primarily relates to the requirements for an applicant to show evidence of an adequate water supply for a building.
Effect on 12th District WRIAs
- In a WRIA without an instream flow rule, which is not listed in the bill, a water well report is sufficient evidence of adequate water supply. This applies to WRIA 44 (Moses Coulee), WRIA 47 (Chelan Watershed) and WRIA 50 (Foster Creek Watershed).
- In a WRIA with an instream flow rule that explicitly regulates exempt wells, the terms of the rule must be followed in determining whether an applicant can show evidence of adequate water supply. This applies to WRIA 45 (Wenatchee River Basin), WRIA 46 (Entiat River Basin), and WRIA 48 (Methow Watershed).
- In a WRIA with an instream flow rule that does not explicitly regulate exempt wells and where a watershed plan was completed, wells are authorized if the applicant pays a $500 fee. Water use for domestic purposes is set at a maximum annual average of 3,000 gallons per day. This applies to WRIA 49 (Okanogan River Basin), of which a portion is located in District 12.