The Whatcom County Council voted last night (Tuesday, January 30) to pass an emergency ordinance to comply with ESSB 6091 (the Hirst fix) and remove the moratorium on building permits that involve private exempt wells. The vote was 6-1 with Todd Donovan opposed. Starting today, you can file for permits, or proceed with construction.

However, this is an emergency ordinance, which lasts for 60 days. At the next council meeting in two weeks, there will be a public hearing, and a vote on a six-month interim version. This is when the real discussion starts, and stakeholders and interested parties should plan to attend the hearing, and make your voices heard. Although council passed the emergency ordinance, it doesn’t mean they’ll pass the interim version.

The interim ordinance covers us while the county works to develop a permanent ordinance that will comply with DOE and other state ordinances. This will involve county staff, the Planning Unit, the Planning Commission, as well as County Council and possibly other government agencies. This is essentially a three step process. The first step occurred at last night’s council meeting.

Again, it is imperative that property owners, well owners, and other stakeholders pay attention to what policy is being created. And know that other special interests, such as the tribes, and ReSources, Future Wise, et. al., will be promoting their agendas. This is no time to become complacent.

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