Statement on Hirst legislation from Lorraine Loomis, Chair, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission:
Treaty tribes in western Washington are disappointed by new legislation that overturns the Washington Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling in exchange for yet another watershed planning process. The Supreme Court correctly clarified the relationship between the Growth Management Act and 100 years of water law. Despite this unfortunate turn of events, going forward, tribes will continue to work to protect streams and fisheries resources.
Unfortunately, the bill that passed the legislature lacks assurances that instream flows and senior water rights held by tribes, farmers and municipalities will be protected. The bill will allow new domestic wells to pump water from already over-allocated watersheds in hopes that planning, mitigation and restoration can one day make up for the deficit. Passing the bill was a hasty decision that could have long-term consequences for our critically important water resources.