The Hirst Decision: Washington State Supreme Court confirms cities and counties need to consider water availability when planning for growth

October 6, 2016

On October 6, 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court concluded that Whatcom County's "comprehensive plan does not protect water availability because it allows permit-exempt appropriations to impede minimum flows."  This decision builds on Futurewise's 2011 win in the Kittitas County decision.

The Supreme Court's common sense opinion protects both fish and consumers.  Fish and wildlife are protected by planning for growth in a way that protects the instream flows needed to maintain their habitats.  Consumers are protected because new lots and new homes must have a legal supply of water the buyers can rely on long-term. 

This decision calls on counties to plan for water supplies up front, and to match growth with available water resources.

Thanks to Jean Melious, who represented the Hirst parties in this case, wrote much of the briefing, and argued the case before the court.

Read the court's full decision at the following link: Hirst Decision

Read the Futurewise press release here: Hirst Press Release