The “Fix” is in. Washinton State legislature passed a bill that has “fixed” the Hirst decision that has held some rural landowners from putting wells on their property and therefore unable to obtain building permits making their land pretty much unusable. It has been signed into law by the governor.
Here are the basic provisions:
-Properties with existing wells and permits that are in process prior to the Governor’s signature will be processed under the prior law (grandfathered);
-New well applications will be subject to a $500 permit fee;
-New wells will be limited, in Whatcom County, to a 3,000 gallon per day withdrawal, averaged over the year; (Several areas are allowed 950 gallons per day)
-The water shall be used for domestic purposes and there is not a limit on using water outside the residence (you can water your lawn or garden so long as you don’t exceed the average daily withdrawal; livestock and irrigation will require a separate well (old law));
-Recall that the Whatcom County moratorium remains in effect, however, we have heard that County Executive Jack Louws’ staff is working hard to present information and a path forward at the January 30, 2018, County Council meeting (stay tuned!);
-The bill is county specific, (Skagit County is mostly excluded from the bill at the request of the Swinomish Nation).