CALL FOR ACTION: Support SB 5239
Dear Tim Sheldon,
REALTORS® are asking for your support of SB 5239 (Warnick/Takko), which would resolve the chaos throughout Washington State concerning the availability of water from single household wells for new homes. Some counties are already adopting development moratorium prohibiting new household wells, while other counties are awaiting by the Legislature on this critical issue.
As you have no doubt heard by now, the State Supreme Court's Hirst decision ruled that the Growth Management Act (GMA) requires local governments to independently review the availability of water for new single household wells even if such new wells are allowed under rules adopted by the Department of Ecology. Nothing in the GMA or its legislative history support the conclusion that this land use planning law somehow supersedes Ecology's authority to implement the state's water code.
For decades, landowners and local governments have relied on Ecology's regulations to establish where water is available for new homes. Landowners have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in vacant residential parcels in areas where single household wells are the only water supply option. If these properties are not buildable, the economic consequences to these landowners and the property tax shift from rural to urban areas will be severe. Many urban areas of Washington State are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis SB 5239 will prevent an affordable housing crisis in rural parts of Washington as well.
Ecology has acknowledged that these rural household wells use a small amount of water, most of which is recharged to groundwater through septic systems. SB 5239 works within Ecology's existing instream flow regulations and preserves Ecology's regulatory authority to address specific water resource and instream flow issues where necessary.
Washington's rural landowners need your help to correct a decision that is so clearly wrong and damaging to people and local governments throughout the state.