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Whatcom County Council curbs building that relies on wells for another 6 months

The Whatcom County Council heard people speak for more than two hours during their December hearing on rural development that relies on domestic wells. On Tuesday, the County Council extended its restriction on new developments that rely on such wells for another six months.
The Whatcom County Council heard people speak for more than two hours during their December hearing on rural development that relies on domestic wells. On Tuesday, the County Council extended its restriction on new developments that rely on such wells for another six months. eabell@bhamherald.com

The County Council is restricting new rural developments that rely on domestic wells in Whatcom County for six more months.

The measure replaces the temporary six-week restriction that was ending.

On Tuesday, the council voted 5-2 for the six-month extension. Council members Barbara Brenner and Ken Mann were the “no” votes.

The council’s actions were in response to a state Supreme Court ruling in October that required the county to make sure there was enough water – both legally and physically – in streams for fish and those holding senior water rights.

The court ruling, known as the Hirst decision, reached beyond Whatcom to other counties, which also have placed restrictions on new developments in rural areas that rely on what are known as permit-exempt wells.

Property owners in rural Whatcom County have been upset and frustrated because they can’t build homes on their land without access to drinking water.

The council continues to look to the Legislature, which members hope can remedy the fallout from the court’s decision that said Whatcom County failed to protect water resources as required by the Growth Management Act.

On Tuesday, the council once again sent a resolution to Olympia, asking for a legislative fix.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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