– “New [WA] Supreme Court Opinions as of Thursday, October 8”
In the case of Foster v. Dep’t of Ecology, the WA Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Foster, reversing “the superior court’s and PCHB’s Ecology’s decisions affirming Ecology’s approval of the Yelm permit” to grant Yelm a more than doubling of their water rights.
The Court heard oral arguments on the case in their chambers in May.
“We hold that Ecology exceeded its authority by approving Yelm’s water permit under the narrow OCPI (overriding consideration of public interest) exception,” Justice Johnson wrote in the majority opinion.
“The exception, by its terms, permits only temporary impairment of minimum flows. Municipal water needs do not rise to the level of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ that we held are required to apply the OCPI exception, nor can a mitigation plan ‘mitigate’ by way of ecological benefit the legal injury to a senior water right. We reaffirm our holding in Swinomish: the OCPI exception is not an end-run around the appropriation process or the prior appropriation doctrine. We reverse the superior court’s and PCHB’s (Pollution Control Hearing Board) decisions affirming Ecology’s approval of the Yelm permit.”
Click here for a Yelm Community Blog entry history of this case.
This is a HUGE blow to Mayor Harding’s continuing growth plans for Yelm, a city that has doubled population in the last 10 years since he was elected.
The Court’s 6-3 decision is a solid ruling for Foster, not a “split decision,” as well.
This is a Yelm-area citizen standing up for following “the process” with perseverance, persistence and determination.
“High Court Reverses Decision Granting Water Rights To Yelm”
“The court on Thursday ruled 6-3 that the Department of Ecology exceeded its authority in approving Yelm’s water rights under a narrow exception in cases where water is limited. In the majority opinion, Justice Charles Johnson wrote that municipal water needs do not rise to the level of overriding public interest,” quoting Wopular.
– CELP’s Press Release
“Washington Supreme Court protects water flowing in streams”