All too little media attention has been given to the Hirst decision and related water-rights and property-usage issues. The capital budget has been held hostage until the Legislature addresses them.
The editorial “Lawmakers should focus on these issues” urges the Legislature to respond to the Hirst decision “ … in a way that allows rural landowners to build and protect their properties’ value, while also safeguarding stream flows. … without holding the capital budget hostage.” OK, that sounds reasonable.
But how do you do that? Urban voters and legislators who dominate state politics want to see pristine fields and forests and gurgling streams beyond their cities’ boundaries. And the cities are where the votes are. Their water comes from public utilities courts and legislators dare not touch. Heaven help the poor farmer or rancher who relies on a well or stream for sanitary and/or irrigation purposes and who is prevented from expanding or developing his property. I salute our Eastern Washington neighbors and their allies for holding the capital budget hostage until these important needs are addressed. What else could they do?
Frank Hensley, Tumwater