The Columbia Basin Farmer published this story yesterday:
In December, the Washington Supreme Court issued a decision in the matter of JZ Knight v. City of Yelm, finding that Knight had the legal right to challenge Yelms approval of residential subdivisions without first obtaining adequate water supply. The Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) filed a friend of the court brief supporting Knight by arguing that ownership of water rights in a watershed can serve as a basis for challenging land use decisions.
Water is a key component of land use and if a city doesnt have sufficient water rights to supply prospective hook-ups, then it has no business approving developments, said Rachael Paschal Osborn, staff attorney for CELP.
Concern over water rights continues in Yelm. The City of Yelm recently obtained approval of new water rights from the Washington Department of Ecology. A group of landowners in Yelm, the Thompson Creek Downstreamers, have appealed Ecologys decision out of concern that additional pumping by Yelm will harm their own water rights and instream flows.
The Courts decision in the JZ Knight case complements an August 2011 water and land use decision involving Kittitas County. In that case, the Court held that the Growth Management Act requires the county to protect the quality and quantity of groundwater supplies when making land use decisions.
Water scarcity is an increasing problem throughout Washington state, said Osborn. Improved legal linkages between water availability and land use decisions will protect public values in our rivers and aquifers.
As I said in a December Letter to the Editor published in the Nisqually Valley News:
“This decision will be a showcase for future citizens desiring to challenge local governments who endanger their precious water resources.
The aftershock from this earthquake will echo 100 years from now where Knight vs. City of Yelm will be cited for upholding the rights of private property owners to challenge unlawful land use decisions.”
NOW, CITING THIS CASE AROUND THE STATE IS ALREADY HAPPENING!
And in this week’s front-page story in the newspaper on Mayor Harding’s upcoming State of the City address, Megan Hansen reports:
“Those accomplishments, he said [Mayor Harding], include securing water rights…”
While factually correct, Hansen left out the most important part of the story covered here on January 3, 2012 and stated in the Columbia Basin Farmer story above:
Concern over water rights continues in Yelm. The City of Yelm recently obtained approval of new water rights from the Washington Department of Ecology. A group of landowners in Yelm, the Thompson Creek Downstreamers, have appealed Ecologys decision out of concern that additional pumping by Yelm will harm their own water rights and instream flows.”
IF AN EASTERN WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER CAN GET IT RIGHT IN REPORTING THE WHOLE STORY, WHY CAN’T THE NISQUALLY VALLEY NEWS?