Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, issued the following statement today following the passage of Senate Bill 6091 to address new wells drilled by property owners.

“This legislation responds to Hirst in a fair, measured way. My only regret is that this should have, and could have, been taken care of last session.

“As soon as Democrats won control of the Senate last November, we made it a priority to insist on good-faith negotiations from all corners this session. Once we took politics out of the equation and our state water needs came to the forefront, in two weeks we were able to reconcile a stalemate that had needlessly left all parties in limbo for months. I hope this approach can serve as an example as we deal with other difficult issues this session.

“I suspect no one will be completely happy with this bill, which is probably a good indicator that this legislation does an evenhanded job of balancing competing interests. I know this agreement doesn’t reflect the tribes’ first wish, for instance, but we worked hard to protect tribal interests as well as environmental standards while allowing people to develop properties responsibly. I trust folks will recognize that we did our best to reconcile everyone’s concerns as fairly and practically as possible.

“This is an imperfect answer to a conundrum that defies consensus: the intersection of the state’s centuries-old ‘first in time, first in right’ water laws; sovereign tribal water rights; the never-ending demand for new capacity; and the realities of our limited and diminishing water supply. While imperfect, it is the most reasonable approach available at this time. I think we all realize that managing our finite resources will pose a difficult challenge for years to come.”