Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kittitas County Exempt Well Petition

The Department of Ecology has a webpage concerning the pending petition to place a moratorium on exempt water wells in Kittitas County. Included are links to the Petition itself and a letter supporting the Petition from the Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Of particular note are the following observations from the Department itself:

"Even before receiving the petition, Ecology has cautioned county officials about the large number of wells being drilled and the rate at which new subdivisions are being approved in Kittitas County that rely on the exempt well provision. 'I am concerned that the current pattern of subdivision approvals and drilling exempt wells is not sustainable,' said Ecology director Jay Manning. 'However, I have made no decision on how to proceed and very much want to hear from Kittitas County residents before any decision is made.'"

Friday, October 12, 2007

State Supreme Court Strikes Down Bainbridge Island's Moratoria on Shoreline Development

In an important decision that came down October 11th, a divided court found that the City of Bainbridge Island improperly invaded the state government's exclusive power to regulate shoreline development.
"J.M. JOHNSON, J. -- Today, we review the Bainbridge Island City (City) Council's adoption of rolling moratoria, which imposed a multi-year freeze on private property development in shoreline areas. The City denied the processing of permit applications for more than three years. There is no state statutory authority for the City's moratoria or for these multiple extensions. Clearly, this usurpation of state power by the local government disregards article XVII, section 1 of the Washington Constitution, which expressly provides that shorelines are owned by the state, subject only to state regulation. The City is not authorized to adopt moratoria on shoreline development arising out of its police powers under article XI, section 11 of the Washington Constitution, which limits local government to regulation 'not in conflict with general laws.' Thus, we affirm both the trial court and the unanimous Court of Appeals decision invalidating the ordinances."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Public Comment Period Open on Ecology's Draft 2007 Columbia River Water Supply Inventory

The Department of Ecology's Columbia River Basin Water Management Program's annual legislative report on the Columbia River water supply inventory is now available for public comment.

Comments will be accepted until November 5, 2007. More information about submitting comments and scheduled public meetings is available at this link.

Update: Kittitas County Group Petitions Ecology for Limits on Exempt Wells

Ecology Announcement:
"The Department of Ecology will host two "listening sessions" for the general public on ground water management in Kittitas County on Oct. 24 and Oct. 25, 2007. Ecology has received a petition from water right holders in the county seeking a temporary moratorium on new ground water wells in Kittitas County. The petitioners are members of a group called Aqua Permanente who are concerned that rapid rural residential growth will impair senior water rights and stream flows in the Kittitas and Yakima valleys. Click on the link below for more information: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2007news/2007-305.html"
Certain water wells in Washington are exempt from the requirement for a water right, among them domestic wells pumping less than 5000 gallons per day. Now a group in Kittitas County wants the Department of Ecology to promulgate a rule that would suspend this exemption. David Lester of the Yakima Herald-Republic has the story.
"The newly created group, calling itself Aqua Permanente, has petitioned the state Ecology Department for a rule that would prohibit the drilling of new wells until the impacts on existing water rights and streamflows are known."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"Makah tribal members indicted in whale hunt"

From Vanessa Ho of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"'We sought out the harshest penalties we believe we could find,' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Oesterle. 'We believe this is egregious conduct, ... but these are the only statutes available to us at this point.'"