Calling it a “slippery slope,” senator votes against Hirst bill
Saying it doesn’t do anything to help Skagit County land owners, Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, voted against the Democrat-sponsored Hirst bill (ESSB 6091), dealing with water rights and wells in rural areas like the 39th District.
“We’re on a slippery slope,” said Wagoner. “I believe that supporters of property rights and property owners will regret this bill. Well users are adding to the rivers. I’m a physical oceanography major. I know this is not based in science. This bill is based in bureaucratic arguments.”
On Thursday night, Republicans and Democrats passed a measure in the state House and Senate creating new rules for household wells, which are crucial for new development in areas where city water is not available. A 2016 Supreme Court ruling in a Whatcom County case imposed near-impossible requirements on rural property owners and county planning departments. The Hirst legislation specifically exempts Skagit County, which is part of the 39th District, at the request of the tribes that want to work on other water measures, including two pilot metering projects.
As promised, Wagoner did not vote for this bill. “As the mayor of Sedro-Woolley and now as the senator for the 39th District, I’ve seen the enormous impact the Hirst decision has had on my neighbors in Skagit County. I’ve talked with many constituents whose property has been left in limbo and considered worthless because they are unable to develop it,” said Wagoner, “I hope this isn’t over. I will continue to fight for water rights in the 39th District and legislation that respects my neighbors.”