Saturday, September 02, 2006

"Conservation groups sue to overturn parts of 2003 Washington water law"

"YAKIMA, Wash. -- Several environmental groups seeking to overturn parts of a 2003 municipal water law filed suit Friday, claiming the law allows growing cities to draw more water from the state's rivers and streams at the expense of existing water-rights holders and fish. The state Legislature passed the Municipal Water Law to provide more certainty and flexibility for water rights held by municipal water systems. In general, water-right holders who don't use all their allotted water run the risk of losing the right to use it in the future. Cities are generally immune from that rule, but the bill expanded the definition of 'municipal water suppliers' to include public utility districts and other traditional water providers, and also expanded their obligations to conserve water. The bill was a priority for many cities around the state that wanted to be able to grow into their water rights as they expand. Opponents included environmentalists and Indian tribes, who argued that growing populations might dry up water needed for fish habitat."