The “Hirst Decision”

Streamflow Restoration under Chapter 90.94 RCW WRIA 1 rulemaking – The “Hirst Decision”

Brief History-Here is how we got to this point
In 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court issued the “Hirst” decision which stated that Whatcom County failed to comply with the Growth Management Act requirements to protect water resources.

  • The decision limited landowners’ ability to get a building permit for a new home when the proposed source of water was a permit-exempt well.
  • 90.94 RCW (Streamflow Restoration) was passed in response to the Hirst Decision.
  • Since a plan was not adopted by February 1, 2019, which was the deadline, 90.94 RCW requires Ecology to undertake a rulemaking. Below is a synopsis of the proposed language.

Hirst “Fix”—Proposed Language

  • The basics of what they are proposing are as follows:
  • The fee for a permit exempt well will remain the same – $500
  • Rural homes with wells installed after January 19, 2018, are limited to 500 gallons per day for indoor domestic use and outdoor watering of a lawn and/or garden.
  • Metering is going to be considered as an enforcement tool, not at present, but in the future.

Please note – The Hirst Fix, developed with Ecology’s input, set the withdrawal limit for new permit-exempt wells at 3,000 gallons per day, now they are saying it will be 500. The average household in the hotter months uses just under 3,000 GPD according to studies. ~Info from WCAR Government Affairs

What You Can Do

  • There is still time for public comment before it closes on May 10, 2019. Below is information on how you can submit your comments.

What Comes Next

  • Comments will be reviewed and considered for incorporation in the rule proposal with a planned release in November 2019.
  • Public hearings will happen in early 2020 with a formal comment period on the language published in November of 2019.
  • The law requires that the adoption of a final rule amendment happen no later than August 1, 2020.

How to Comment

Online
To provide comments to this preliminary draft documents, go to https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Laws-rules-rulemaking/Rulemaking/WAC-173-501.

Mail
You can also mail your comments to

Annie Sawabini
Department of Ecology Water Resources Program
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia WA 98504-7600

Questions?
If you have questions, call or email

Kasey Cykler at 360.255.4386, kasey.cykler@ecy.wa.gov

Annie Sawabini, Rulemaking Lead, 360.407.6878, annie.sawabini@ecy.wa.gov

Posted on April 25, 2019 at 11:15 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Community, Tracie's Thoughts

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