Legislature's action on Hirst is inadequate

January 19, 2018

Last night - Thursday, January 18th - the Washington State Legislature effectively overturned the State Supreme Court Hirst decision by passing SB 6091.  See our press release on this issue here.

The impacts of SB 6091 will be felt across the state, as only 15 basins will be subject to new well-drilling rules and mitigation requirements - leaving over half of the state without protections for instream flows, and continuing the over-appropriation of water. In addition, there is no timeline for the Department of Ecology to implement further instream flow protections, regardless of water availability.

The Futurewise team has worked tirelessly on this issue for the last several years, and we plan to continue that work by pressing for state-wide implementation, as well as effective investment in mitigation projects. 

At this milestone, our impression is that as important as the Hirst decision is in terms of looking forward towards solving our state's water issues, our state government is not willing to step up to proactive solutions that will prevent major crises - or protect consumers and water rights holders - in the near future.  Yesterday, the New York Times reported that water crises around the world are the leading edge of conflict and revolution, and there's every reason to think that conditions in Washington State will someday reach crisis proportions due to the impacts of climate change on water availability.

We're grateful to our supporters for standing by us up to this point, and standing with us as we determine our next steps on water resource issues in the coming year.