Bailey’s water storage-feasibility bill adopted by Legislature

Sen. Barbara Bailey’s legislation to address water issues in the Skagit Valley was approved unanimously by the state House of Representatives and now moves to the Governor’s desk. Senate Bill 6589 directs state agencies in charge of water management to work with local partners to study the feasibility of water storage to recharge the Skagit River basin so that users of permit-exempt wells would have year-round access to water.

“I’m very pleased that the people of Skagit are closer to getting the relief they need,” said Bailey. “This is an issue that I have been working on for years for the people in my community and the Legislature wisely moved this bill forward to find help for hundreds of families in need.”

Bailey’s legislation seeks to remedy issues related to a 2013 state Supreme Court ruling. The court invalidated a 2006 administrative rule made by the state Department of Ecology that allowed the use of Skagit basin water reservations to provide uninterruptable, year-round water to property owners. As a result of the reversal, nearly 500 existing homes, numerous permitted wells on vacant lots and some businesses remain in jeopardy of losing water access. That has lowered property values by up to 90 percent, limiting the owners’ abilities to improve or sell their property.

“This legislation is a fair and comprehensive look at water-storage options that involves stakeholders,” said Bailey. “I believe this feasibility study could identify a long-term, collaborative solution for this problem.”