Feb. 7th, 2018 – #WakeUpWhatcom Update

In News, Organizing for Whatcom County, Wake Up Whatcom by commonnw

In this update:

  • Last chance to request mail-in ballot for Conservation Dist. Election
  • Whatcom County Planning update on permit exempt wells
  • Realtors’ Association weighs in on County reactions to Hirst fix
  • Growth Mgmt Hearings Board – new ruling on County Hirst compliance
  • Just in – Well Owners meeting scheduled

Last chance to request a mail-in ballot for the Whatcom Conservation District election

Wednesday, February 7th, (THAT’S TODAY!) is the last day registered voters can request a mail-in ballot to participate in the upcoming Whatcom Conservation District Supervisor election. The conservation district helps farmers and landowners balance the environment with economic issues.

Voters have until 4 p.m. to request a mail-in ballot online here, or by calling the Conservation District office at (360) 526-2381, extension 101. Any Whatcom County registered voter may also vote in person on Election Day, Tuesday, March 13th at the district office located at 6975 Hannegan Road, just north of East Pole Road (Hinote’s Corner).

Incumbent supervisor Larry Helm is the only remaining active farmer currently serving on our volunteer local Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors, and is seeking re-election. (Editor’s note: In full disclosure, when Larry isn’t tending to his small herd of Scottish Highlander cattle or doing his volunteer work with the Conservation District, he also serves as a member of Common Threads Northwest’s Board of Directors.)

Larry was recently recognized by the Washington State Conservation Commission as Supervisor of the Year for the North West Area. In presenting the award Mark Clark, WSCC Executive Director, stated, “Larry has worked hard to daylight complex issues faced by local Ag producers and to increase support for agriculture in Whatcom County. He has shown commitment to working with his fellow board members and district staff to arrive at common understanding even through tough discussions on controversial issues. Larry’s willingness to frankly share his perspective and experiences in Whatcom County are appreciated.”

Some additional facts to consider if you, your relatives, friends, neighbors and associates have not yet requested ballots: In their monthly newsletter released yesterday, February 5, the Whatcom Democrats put out an alert to this election with the following comment included: “…..Our candidate, Alan Chapman, is up against two conservative Republicans. Help us get him elected by requesting your mail-in ballot before the February 7 deadline!…” Mr. Chapman’s “day job” is with the Lummi Nation as a fish biologist. Rural residents and members of Whatcom County’s agricultural community have told us this newsletter is heavily circulated to students (many from out of area) at Western Washington University. If registered here, they are allowed to vote in this election. During last year’s Conservation District Supervisor election, hundreds of WWU students participated – enough to sway the outcome of that election.

Exempt Well/Water Information / Published by Whatcom County Planning and Development Services: Updated 2/1/2018

On January 19, 2018 Governor Inslee signed ESSB 6091 which became effective immediately. The new state law addresses the use of permit exempt water withdrawals for development purposes. On Tuesday January 30, 2018 the Whatcom County Council passed Emergency Interim Ordinance 2018-001 enacting the provisions of ESSB 6091 for the Nooksack River Basin (WRIA 1) portions of the county. This Emergency Ordinance will allow citizens to obtain building permits with a new permit exempt well as their approved water source for domestic use (in most areas of the county) subject to certain conditions including:

  • Water shall be for domestic use only, with a maximum annual average withdrawal of 3,000 gallons per day per connection.
  • The applicant shall record with the property title any relevant restrictions or limitations associated with water supply; and
  • The applicant shall pay a $500 fee to the county for each project permit.

Existing wells legally constructed prior to January 19, 2018 are considered an adequate water supply for the intended purposes and are not subject to the conditions above. In addition, the above conditions do not apply to Point Roberts, Lummi Island, Eliza Island or portions of the county within the Samish River Basin (WRIA 3).

As with all building permits, approved water availability must first be obtained from the Whatcom County Health Department. Once you have approved water availability from the Health Department, you can start the permitting process.

If you have questions regarding water availability requirements associated with the passage of ESSB 6091 and Emergency Interim Ordinance 2018-001 as they may relate to a specific property, please contact the Whatcom County Health Department at health@whatcomcounty.us or 360-778-6000 or Whatcom County Planning and Development Services at pds@whatcomcounty.us or 360-778-5900.

As updates become available, we will keep you informed on this website. We have created a news flash item that you can subscribe to and when new information is posted related to water issues, you will receive notification. The process is simple using the Notify Me application on the website–scroll down to the News Flash Heading then choose Planning and Development Services Exempt well/water information category and click on the e-mail icon on the left to receive email notification of updates.

The links below provide more detailed information.

Link to County PDS: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/2487/Exempt-WellWater-Information

Whatcom County Realtors weigh in on County reactions to Hirst fix

When our local Realtors’ Association issued the bulletin below, County Council had not yet held their regularly-scheduled January 30 meeting. At that meeting, Council enacted an “emergency ordinance” to repeal their previously enacted permit moratorium imposed on rural property owners in response to the infamous Hirst decision. The Council also introduced a separate 6-month “interim ordinance” and scheduled a public hearing on this measure for next Tuesday evening, February 13. Folks, this issue is far from resolved. The alert issued by the Realtors to their members contains information about the desires of several current County Council members, notably Rud Browne and Todd Donovan. Voting citizens should pay close and continuing attention to what is taking place on this issue in the Council Chambers.

The following was authored by Perry Eskridge, esq. on behalf of the Realtors’ Governmental Affairs Committee and is shared with his permission.

“……On the Bellingham / Whatcom Chamber of Commerce’ Whatcom Report radio show aired Sunday, February 4 on KGMI-AM 790, Mary Kay Robinson (host of the show and Whatcom County realtor) and Perry Eskridge (Government Affairs Director for the Whatcom County Realtors Assoc.) discussed the history and outcome of the Hirst Fix (ESSB-6091). Robinson and Eskridge delivered a thoughtful, nonpartisan discussion on Hirst and ESSB-6091 which will help anyone who is still confused on this issue, what happened and why it is so important that Whatcom County works cooperatively to meet the February 2019 deadline given by the State Legislature to update our water plan. To listen to the podcast, click here……

Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) rules on Whatcom County partial compliance with State Supremes’ Hirst decision remand

On February 1, the GMHB issued its order ruling that our County has complied with the “water quality measures” portion embedded in the controversial Washington State Supreme Court’s Hirst decision. However, the ruling pointedly states that the “water quantity measures” are still to be addressed. Refer to page 17 of the Hearings Board’s 22-page Order On Compliance in GMHB Case No. 12-2-0013, the Hirst, Brakke, Harris, Stalheim and Futurewise petition against Whatcom County that led to the State Supreme Court’s Hirst decision in October, 2016.

This Just In – Well Owners’ Meeting Scheduled for Sat. Feb. 17

Mark your calendar if you live in Whatcom County and are a well owner or want to drill a well, or are concerned about representation of ordinary citizens on water issues come get an update and briefing on Saturday, February 17, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Rome Grange, 2821 Mt. Baker Hwy., Bellingham. Information courtesy of Max & Carole Perry.

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