Enviros pushing Referendum 54 to roll back water rights law - BIAW says 'decline to sign'


from Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW)

One of the several builder-friendly bills to come out of the 2003 legislative session was ESSB 5028, a bill stating that the state Department of Ecology (DOE) does not have the authority to limit, condition, impair, or supersede the lawful use of an existing water right permit in the name of pollution control. The bill came as a legislative response to a DOE enforcement action against the Methow Valley Irrigation District, which, in using its water right permit to divert water from the Methow river, left less water in the river than DOE and environmentalists wanted. DOE claimed the diversion raised the temperature of the river in a way that was dangerous to salmon and other aquatic life. So DOE sought to limit the use of the Irrigation District's water right.

The Legislature subsequently passed ESSB 5028, telling DOE it does not have the authority to limit the exercise of a water right permit for the purpose of reducing pollution and protecting salmon.

Vigorously opposed to ESSB 5028, environmentalists, led by the Washington Environmental Council, filed Referendum 54 to roll back the protections the Legislature gave to lawful water right permit holders.

After a brief court proceeding to establish the ballot title for Referendum 54, in which BIAW's legal department represented ESSB 5028 sponsors [Senators Bob Morton (R-Kettle Falls), Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside) and Representative Bruce Chandler (R-Granger), the Washington Water Policy Alliance and almost a dozen other groups], the environmentalists obtained a ballot title and have begun to gather signatures to put R-54 on the November ballot.

If you, your family members, employees and friends encounter signature gatherers seeking your signature on R-54, DECLINE TO SIGN! Do not help the environmental community game the referendum process to roll back much-needed regulatory reform on water rights. Further, if you do see signature gatherers out and about, please call one of the BIAW legal team members at 800-228-4229 and let them know.


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