Saturday, July 25, 2009

Exempt Wells for Stock Watering

Updating a previous entry on the Center for Environmental Law and Policy's (CELP) opposition to Easterday Ranches' proposed use of exempt groundwater for a new feedlot in Franklin County: On Jan. 8, 2009, Ecology denied CELP's petition for a declaratory order based on Easterday's right to decline to be a party to the proceeding. On June 11, Ecology announced that it had approved the transfer of a water right to 316 acre-feet of water to Easterday Ranches for use at the proposed feedlot. Easterday will apparently still need to draw on exempt groundwater to meet its needs for the 30,000 head facility.

A useful summary of this matter, including links to key documents, can be found on Ecology's website.

Ecology is continuing to ask for legislative clarification of the scope of the stockwatering exemption in the groundwater code. Quoting Ecology's FAQ on the Easterday feedlot:

Several bills to amend and clarify RCW 90.44.050 were introduced in the 2009 session of the Washington Legislature. All of these bills died in session. An interim working group comprised of legislators and representatives of the dairy and livestock industries and Ecology staff will convene later this year in an attempt to draft a statutory amendment to be considered during the 2010 session of the Legislature.