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It's time to speak out on a middle-ground solution to our state's water issues

posted Jun 9, 2017, 10:45 AM by Hannah Coughlin
This spring, water is on everyone's minds. From planning a garden watering schedule and dreaming of lazy days on the river to worrying about a potential summer drought: Water is the thread that connects all Washington communities. This spring, it is imperative that our local and state government begins planning to ensure that in the future, all of us can enjoy enough clean and plentiful water — for people, farms, and fish.

Right now, the Washington State Legislature is in their second special session to pass a budget before July 3 and avoid a government shutdown. A number of priorities for our state are on the line, including fully funding K-12 education, mental health, and toxic cleanups

On top of these priorities, the legislature is also tasked with finding a fix to a State Supreme Court ruling on rural wells and sprawl, which is also holding up the budget negotiation process. The State Supreme Court's decision found that in order to accommodate future growth, counties must make sure water is available, and that there is enough water to be granted to new permits without taking away from people with existing water rights. In turn, counties asked for help from the legislature to come up with solutions that work for all Washington citizens.

It's time to speak out on a middle-ground solution to our state's water issues. Please contact your state senator and representatives TODAY and urge them to reach a middle-ground solution to the State Supreme Court's decision on rural wells.

It's not an either-or decision

Too many people view the legislature's choice as either-or. Either we favor rural property owners and allow salmon and wildlife to suffer. Or we favor the environment and hurt property rights. But neither view is correct.

The legislature should require the state Department of Ecology and counties to focus on cost-effective ways to offset the adverse impacts of water use from rural wells —through a process called mitigation. Mitigation options include: 
  • Increasing water-use efficiency;
  • Limiting outdoor water use in the summer;
  • Creating water banks and markets;
  • Extending pipelines from existing water associations and districts; and many more.
To ensure the Department of Ecology can carefully consider mitigation options and subsequent monitoring plans, the legislature must ensure the department has sufficient funding.


How you can help

Contacting your legislators by phone is by far the most productive and impactful form of communication. Read more in the New York Times article "Here's why you should call, not email, your legislators." 
  1. Call your legislators. Let your state representatives know you support this bill. Find your legislators through the Washington State Legislature's District Finder and view the talking points below.

  2. Email your legislators. Find your legislators through the Washington State Legislature's District Finder and view the talking points below.

Sample script

Hi, my name is [insert name] and I live in [insert city], which is in the [insert legislative district].

I'm calling to urge Senator/Representative [insert name] to find a middle-ground solution to the Washington State Supreme Court's decision on rural wells. We CAN have new single-family homes in rural areas using wells without impacting senior water rights and salmon. This isn't an either-or issue.

Any solution must require the Department of Ecology and counties to offset water use by new rural wells through mitigation.

Thank you for considering my views on this important topic.
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