Whatcom Republicans have learned in an email from the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, that the Department of Ecology has scheduled three public meetings to discuss their proposed rules for Whatcom County. These are not formal hearings and the comments will not be recorded as part of an official record.

The Meeting dates, times and locations are:

  • Monday, April 22 – Ferndale Library (2125 Main St.) – 1:00p.m.-3:00p.m.
  • Monday, April 22 – Lynden Library (216-4th St.) – 6:00p.m. – 8:00p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 23 – Padilla Bay Pavillion (10441 Bayview-Edison Road, Mt. Vernon) – 9:30a.m.-11:30a.m.

The Department of Ecology met with elected officials in March of this year to discuss how the Department would proceed with the official rule addressing future water withdrawals using permit exempt domestic wells in Whatcom County. Those of us attending that meeting distinctly remember the Water Resources Director specifying that, because there was such a short timeline, the Department would be following the law very closely. This included NOT discussing metering, NOT imposing withdrawal limits greater than those included in the Hirst fix legislation; and NOT increasing fees.
The Department issues its proposed rule earlier this month. The rule is not what we expected.

Whatcom County Association of Realtors

Well, here is the proposed new rule. Here are the main points:

  • The fee for a permit exempt well will remain the same – $500;
  • Rural homes with wells installed after January 19, 2018, are limited to 500 gallons per day for indoor domestic use and outdoor watering of a lawn and/or garden;
  • Metering is going to be considered as an enforcement tool, not at present, but in the future.

Please plan to attend these meetings. We need to fill up the room, to let our public servants know that we are paying attention, and we know what they’re up to.

Whatcom County Association of Realtors has provided a list of critical issues that we should bring up for discussion:

The amount of water being regulated in Whatcom County under this rule is one-half of 1% of the water resources in the Nooksack watershed. Why are the citizens installing wells now being asked to mitigate for the other 99.5% of the watershed?

The Hirst Fix, developed with Ecology’s input, set the withdrawal limit for new permit-exempt wells at 3,000 gallons per day. Why now the 83% reduction to 500 gallons/day?

The majority of the Planning Unit opposed withdrawal limits below the 3,000 gallons per day. Why is Ecology proposing such drastic limits?

Why is Ecology limiting withdrawals to 500 gallons per day when Ecology’s own consultant determined that the average Whatcom County rural residence uses just under 3,000 gallons per day, on average, during the high-use season (July -Sept.)?

Whatcom County allowed approximately 10 new permit-exempt wells in 2018, the first year of the 20-year period. Has there been any consideration that construction is minimal to that which was anticipated (100 wells/year) in the calculations of water consumption?

The Planning Unit identified numerous projects that would more than offset water consumption at complete build out in 20 years, so doesn’t that mean that the projects are more than adequate to mitigate any harm that may result from rural construction? (FYI, the “consumptive use” amount is equal to the morning dew on a 10-acre parcel of land over the course of a year; that is the amount of water we are trying to replace!)

If the mitigation projects are required to offset the entirety of consumptive use created by new rural residents, why do we have to limit withdrawals when there are more than sufficient projects to ensure adequate streamflows? By law, this is supposed to be a neutral result regardless of how many homes might be built.

Ecology went to great lengths to demonstrate that metering was ineffective to measure water consumption in rural households, even requiring the Planning Unit to utilize a different method to calculate consumption. Why then is Ecology saying metering may be required in the future?

Who requested that metering be included in this rule?

Shouldn’t metering be a decision by the Whatcom County Council?

Why does Ecology combine domestic use with a reduction in lawn and garden use when the groundwater code specifically distinguishes between the two and explicitly exempts up to 1/2 acre of noncommercial lawn and garden irrigation?

Has Ecology reviewed research by local hydrogeologist Chuck Lindsay that demonstrates 100 new homes in the Bertrand Creek watershed, one of the most at-risk watersheds in Whatcom County, would have an impact LESS than the margin of error on that streams monitoring equipment?

Whatcom County Association of Realtors

They continue:

As you can see, there are many questions raised by Ecology’s course of action than are answered by the rule itself. Those of us working in this area for the past several years have concerns that the rule, as proposed, seems to directly contradict state law, findings by Ecology’s own consultants, and is contrary to the majority of Planning Unit Caucuses representing almost 80% of rural Whatcom County water users.

Of course, in the final analysis, Whatcom County government has demonstrated an immense lack of leadership in this area creating a vacuum that, ultimately, has resulted in local citizens losing control over our local natural resources. The result is that we are now dictated rules rather than managing our own affairs and, more concerning, the rural lifestyle that we enjoy in our County and that is supposed to be protected under Washington law is now directly threatened.

Whatcom County Association of Realtors

There seems to be mischief afoot in our state and county government, and we should not allow them to get away with it.

Discussion - 7 Comments
  1. Roger Almskaar

    Apr 19, 2019  at 11:11 pm

    Thanks for getting this important info out! Whatcom Capr is doing the same. Did you see my email the eve of April 18?


  2. Gian

    Apr 19, 2019  at 11:11 pm

    Obviously, denying or limiting water rights and access to water will negatively affect property values of those impacted by this communistic policy of withholding God given natural resources to property owners. Property taxes are near and dear to a democrat politician, whose thirst for someone else’s money is unquenchable. As I understand it, government will not lose any tax revenue under this policy despite the soon-to-be significant drop in property taxes for those who fall victim to this insane policy. Rather, government leeches will pass any revenue loss onto all other property owners to make up the shortfall they created. If we tie their hands by preventing them from increasing non-affected property owner’s taxes, water will once again flow freely as God intended.


  3. Levi Patrick

    Apr 23, 2019  at 11:11 pm

    The Whatcom Republican Party is doing a VERY poor job!

    The Democrat’s website had the Conservation District election front page. You should have made MANY calls, free rides if needed ETC.

    If properly communicated, logistically coordinated, you could have easily won the Conservation District. I hope more than just this article is happening on every issue. The dems will make this county untenable as they have made other areas.

    So far, conservatives HAVE allowed plenty of mischief and now MMR vaccine personal exemptions are being taken away State wide. How long before all ages are forced to be vaccinated or become financial lepers?


    • Karl Uppiano

      Apr 23, 2019  at 11:11 pm

      Are you volunteering to help us get organized? Because everyone I know in this organization is working their heart out. If you have better ideas, then please, step up!


      • Levi Patrick

        Apr 24, 2019  at 11:11 pm

        Yes, I think about volunteering but I am busy with children and youngest is 8. With school, sports it is demanding sometimes.

        What I suggest is using, email, social media and your website well ahead of elections. Using these also for countering NEWS such as congratulating President Trump for a clean Mueller report so people will know what has really happened and not Hillary sound bites.

        I’m not from around here and only by chance heard of the Conservation District vote. I noticed that there was not a front webpage notice and not any information on the candidates on the Republican website. I had the idea later to find the Democrat’s website and by who they promote could figure out who I didn’t want to vote for.

        I was impressed by their front page promotion, calendar of events and overall organization of the Dems’ website, just not their policies.

        The dissemination of NEWS doesn’t take much manpower. I’ve met many young people who say they are Republicans but had no idea their was election. I would bet unless you mange a farm or have land by waterways you would not know about this election unless informed by your party.

        With only 4000 votes, not many people knew or cared about this election.

        I’ve also found a lot of bills make quite a bit of progress in Olympia before anyone knows such as one that effects my children, 1638 that will take away the personal exemption for MMR. This is the road to forced vaccination for everyone as proven in California trail of bills to this same effect. This is a matter of freedom to be forced to take something proven to be harmful and in some cases cause death.

        Is there somewhere that has alerts to issues of personal freedom and rights for our county and state?

        I would have liked to see some kind of welcome to the party, watch this and this etc. to keep informed…when I registered as a Republican.


        • Karl Uppiano

          May 12, 2019  at 11:11 pm

          We appreciate your suggestions, and we always strive to do better. However, we cannot run the party exactly as every person who has an opinion about it thinks we should.

          We often go searching for volunteers in leadership, even Chair, Vice Chair, State Committee Man and Committee Woman, and so on.

          We have a need for citizen journalists, people who can monitor and publish updates on Facebook and other social media, and our website. Right now, we have only a few people doing that, all volunteer.

          Most of the volunteers we do have, can only afford to donate a few hours per week of their time — they have families, jobs, and other demands on their time. If we had a Tom Steyer or George Soros, maybe we could afford to pay full time employees.

          So by all means, if you want to see things run differently, you need to volunteer, and promote your ideas persuasively, to get others in the organization to come around to your way of thinking, and get them implemented.


  4. Bill LaFreniere

    May 07, 2019  at 11:11 pm

    I have found that my ability to communicate my ideas through Bellingham Craigslist Politics posting is being severely disrupted. I do not believe that it is local people doing this. Have noticed when people post opposing views, the people posting do not appear to have a mastery of the ENGLISH LANGUAGE. This would lead me to believe that they may be originating on the ASIAN continent. One of the drawbacks of the freedoms of the world wide web. Would request that sites offering political posting remove the opportunity for flagging/removal of posts EXCEPT for cases of vulgarity. And perhaps limit posting to people within that country.


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