Legislation to enable people to develop property that requires new water rights will be heard Monday by the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee.
Senate Bill 6091, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, would allow property owners to drill new wells and withdraw enough well water for typical household use while their communities develop and adopt plans to permanently govern usage. Under the proposal, counties would have up to five years to implement new watershed plans. As a safeguard, the state Department of Ecology would draft rules as necessary to ensure the plans are workable.
The legislation would provide $200 million for mitigation and related efforts to restore and enhance stream flows and aquatic habitat.
“We want landowners to be able to develop their properties, just as landowners before them have done, but we need to make sure it’s done in ways that don’t violate the water rights of existing users or disrupt stream levels crucial to salmon and other fish,” Van De Wege said. “Negotiating a solution that enables people to develop property without disrupting our state’s water balance is a historically complex challenge. This five-year window is intended to allow the time it will take to devise a solution that balances everyone’s needs fairly and reasonably.”
The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 3 in the Cherberg Building.