Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

Hirst Remains the Law of the Land (and Water)

October 2017 Bar Bulletin

By Kate Hambley

As reported in the March and May issues of the Bar Bulletin, last fall the Washington Supreme Court issued a controversial Growth Management Act (GMA) decision, Whatcom County v. Hirst,1 holding that counties cannot rely on the
Department of Ecology’s rules governing small “permit-exempt” wells, but must independently determine whether there is sufficient water available for development.2

The decision was immediately polarizing, pitting property-rights advocates against environmentalists (and splitting along familiar east-west lines). Both sides called for a legislative fix, but the Legislature ultimately could not
deliver in the last, extended session.

Despite the controversy surrounding the decision, the legal effects...

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