After the February 2, 2019 deadline for Whatcom County to review, update and approve an updated Nooksack Watershed plan; the Dept. of Ecology voted against the proposals that were presented to them by the caucuses participating within Planning Unit. These caucuses have the designated authority under the legislature to guide and recommend through consensus of the participating stakeholders on any changes to our Washington State “exempt well” water law.
The Planning Unit has agreed to continue to work towards a finalized plan and retain their position within the constraints of Washington’s RCW 90.82.130(5) regarding how their rule-making process shall proceed.
Dave Onkels, lead negotiator for the Land Use Caucus has submitted a letter to the Department of Ecology emphasizing their intentions to enforce this law.
Excerpt from Land Use Caucus to the Department of Ecology
The scope of work for the WRIA 1 Planning Unit included instream flows. The adopted WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan (WMP) addresses this topic in Appendix C – Instream Flow Selection and Adoption Plan. RCW 90.82.130(5) states:
“Once a WRIA plan has been approved … the department may develop and adopt modifications to the plan or obligations imposed by the plan only through a form of negotiated rule making that uses the same processes that applied in that watershed for developing the plan” (emphases added).
Negotiated rule-making is described in RCW 34.05.310(2)(a): “Negotiated rule making by which representatives of an agency and of the interests that are affected by a subject of rule making, including, where appropriate, county and city representatives, seek to reach consensus on the terms of the proposed rule and an the process by which it is negotiated” (emphasis added).