With no legislation addressing the Hirst decision, the County must determine next steps
OLYMPIA – The Thurston County Board of Commissioners met last Thursday to determine how the County will respond to the Hirst decision. With the end of the legislative session and no legislative action on the Hirst decision, the County must develop next steps in moving forward.
Soon after the Hirst decision was rendered, the Commissioners took affirmative action by directing the County’s hydrogeologist to start gathering data to determine water availability, and this effort continues. “Gathering this data will help in the decision making process so we, as a Board, are making a sound decision based on scientific information,” said Commission Chair, Bud Blake. “We are asking for regular updates from our hydrogeologist so we can thoroughly understand what our County resources are before we make any policy decisions about those resources.”
Commission Vice-Chair, John Hutchings said, “We are asking our hydrogeologist to look at all water availability in the County, not focusing on any particular area. This is a County-wide issue and all areas are of the same importance in this process.”
“We want to make sure any decision made is in the best interest of both the environment and our residents,” said Commissioner, Gary Edwards. “Taking some time to really understand what we are working with will help in that process.”
The County continues to issue Certificates of Water Availability (COWA) for single family exempt wells while it explores the implications of the Hirst decision. At this point, and without the scientific data, it would be too premature for the County to deny permits. It is imperative to have adequate data to make an informed decision related to this very complex issue.
If landowners have concerns about their COWA or legal right to water, please contact an attorney. County staff are not authorized to provide legal advice to applicants or members of the public.