WSGWA Urges House Ag & Environment
Committee To Amend HB 2997
February 2000 — WSGWA urges House Ag & Environment Committee to, “Prohibit the Department of Ecology from using a local health district[s] or a counties as surrogates to enforce water rights laws or issues through the local government’s authority over land use laws.”
In prepared testimony presented on behalf of WSGWA’s President, Scott Fowler and Legislative Chair, Dean Hayes Sr., Mike Matson, WSGWA’s legislative consultant, informed the members of the Committee that, “DOE has coupled the inspection of well sealing and siting by the County to the much broader issues raised by their interpretations of the relationship between water law and the Growth Management Act. This delegation which was intended to facilitate better inspection of water well construction has become an element in the usurpation of land use planning powers from local government by DOE. By clear language in the law, the inspection by County personnel is to be limited to those matters for which they are qualified. Specifically appropriate siting of wells, appropriate sealing of wells and assurance of proper decommissioning of wells when it is called [for].”
Representatives from DOE testified to the Committee that, “they were not aware of such matters.” DOE’s Ken Slattery and Richard Szymarek said, “they would work with the Association to clear up any misunderstandings.”
Matson urged the members of the Committee to adopt the amendment language prepared by the Association. Rep. Gary Chandler, Committee Co-Chair stated that he would “work with the Association, through floor action,” on the matter presented he and his colleagues.
The following WSGWA language should be added to RCW 18.104.043; amending WAC 1996 chapter 12 section 1. “This is the extent of the authority granted to a local health district or a county. A local health district or a county has no authority to act on behalf of the department to decide water rights issues, or to suspend or stop building projects. The department is prohibited from using a local health district or a county as a surrogate to enforce water rights laws or issues through the local government’s authority over land use laws.”
~ Mike Matson