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Issue Position: "Exempt" Wells

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

Issue: The continual attack to limit or prohibit exempt wells greatly impacts residents of the 15th Legislative District.

Discussion: Washington State Water Law allows landowners to utilize ground water without a permit for a limited number of uses. These uses include:

For (live)stock water purposes;
For water of lawns or noncommercial gardens not exceeding one-half acre;
For single or group domestic uses in an amount not exceeding five thousand (5,000) gallons per day; and
For commercial or industrial purposes not exceeding five thousand (5,000) gallons per day.

These limited uses (found in RCW 90.44.050) greatly limit rural landowners from using their property to the highest and best use. In addition, the State's interpretation of the law reduces a landowner's ability to use unproductive lands for residential development. At a minimum, these uses should be expanded to encourage new economic development in rural areas of the 15th Legislative District.

In 2006 the Attorney General's Office published an Opinion which reaffirmed the livestock water exemption. The opinion should be affirmed by the Legislature in order to provide livestock producers in the 15th District with a predictable and reliable water supply for stock water.

Solutions: If appointed as the Representative, I will work to expand the "exempt" ground water uses to allow economic development to occur in the rural areas of the 15th District. Rural economic development can provide an area with much needed services, jobs and tax revenue. For example, a parts dealer who has the ability to locate their business in an agricultural area can save time and reduce expense serving an area's farmers.

In addition, I will work to amend the law to specifically identify group domestic wells (as defined by the State Department of Health) as an exempt use. This will allow rural residential development to occur at densities dictated by local conditions and not by Special Interest or Environmental Groups.

Lastly, I will work to have the Attorney General's livestock water Opinion affirmed by the Legislature. It is vitally important that our region's livestock producers be afforded the right the utilize ground water.

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