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COUNTY BY COUNTY BREAKDOWN

Under the Hirst court ruling, individual counties have been directed to each find ways they will allow water use to build homes. This requirement has created uncertainty for counties, rural communities, and many others impacted by the decision.

The list below summarizes the varied responses counties are currently taking to Hirst:

County
Hirst Approach
Clallam County Covered by the Dungeness Rule, which requires mitigation in certain instances
Clark County County Comp Plan being appealed, GMHB might influence how wells are regulated
Grays Harbor County Wait and see approach
**King County Building permits continue, but the county warns applicants that they make no warranties regarding the right to use the water in a well; they also suggest applicants consult a hydrogeologist to study sites.
Mason County Issuing building permits with a disclaimer that the Hirst decision and/or future legislative action could affect the applicants’ water rights.
Kittitas County Kittitas County previously established a water banking system
Lewis County Wait and see approach
Okanogan County Permit applicants must prove physical and legal availability of water, subject to Planning Director approval and Hearing Examiner appeal.
Pacific County Wait and see approach
**Snohomish County (Just like King County) Building permits continue, but the county warns applicants that they make no warranties regarding the right to use the water in a well; they also suggest applicants consult a hydrogeologist to study sites. Please see the attached disclosure that Snohomish county is attaching to building permits.
Pierce County Requires a hydrogeologic study to show that a new well will not impact or impair senior water rights or instream flows and closures.
Spokane County Interim ordinance allows one well per five acres outside of the Little Spokane River watershed; otherwise must have a water right or a mitigation certificate from Ecology, or a hydrogeological report showing no impairment
Stevens County Comprehensive Plans and development regulations will be reviewed on the GMA update schedule.
Thurston County Wait and see approach
Whatcom County Requires a study by a qualified hydrogeologist in most areas, with an option for mitigation depending on the results of the study; rainwater catchment allowed.
Walla Walla County Already requires mitigation for new exempt wells in the Walla Walla Basin
Whitman County County commissioners have discussed it several times, but have taken no action
Yakima County Yakima County is a unique situation with major federal influence. It is exploring the possibility of using its own water rights to meter new wells in a “non-piped utility” sort of arrangement

**With no guarantees for future applicants, these counties have a virtual moratorium in place on building permits.

Note: These counties currently have no information on Hirst available on their websites: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Klickitat, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skagit, Skamania, Wahkiakum.

Updated 2/20/2017