The letter describes in clear terms how water laws affect everybody. It explains what's supposed to happen. Then it lays out how agencies and planners have basically run away with the process since 2009. A lot of people have been dumped - citizens with wells, private water associations, the county's public water districts, and even small cities in large part - even though the Watershed Planning Act (RCW 90.82.10) says:
The legislature finds that the local development of watershed plans for managing water resources and for protecting existing water rights is vital to both state and local interests. The local development of these plans serves vital local interests by placing it in the hands of people: Who have the greatest knowledge of both the resources and the aspirations of those who live and work in the watershed; and who have the greatest stake in the proper, long-term management of the resources.
In spite of this very clear law, state and regional agencies and the county's departments have jumped the tracks. Not only has resource planning become remote, but both public and private water rights have been fought over behind closed doors without transparency, or open public meetings (check out the state law).
Next week, council will have the opportunity to do the right thing to start fixing the situation. It's pretty clear that only council is motivated to step-in.
This is a critical issue that affects everyone. Read this situation letter and attend the meetings listed below if you can. Get involved however you can, or brush-up on the words and music to "How Dry I Am."
A Whatcom County Council Surface Water Work Session is scheduled for next Tuesday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m. in Courthouse Room #513, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham. Be there! It's a biggie.
(A Puget Sound Partnership/WRIA 1 "WIT" meeting is also scheduled for Tuesday, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the 1000 N Forest Street, Bellingham. You may have missed this post.)
A special meeting of the WRIA 1 “Joint Consolidated Board” is scheduled for next Thursday March 21 at 1:30 p.m. also in Courthouse Room #513, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham.