Water Rights in Washington impact market
Finally clarity for the Hirst legislation & water rights in Washington state! This supreme court decision was negatively impacting land owners, buyers, & developers across the state. Properties were in limbo! Land deals had stalled! Water rights were argued over & confusion had set in. A terrible mix for an active market.
Why the Hirst legislation is important
Buyers and agents were confused on whether a parcel would be granted well water access, and sellers were wondering if they would ever have marketable property to sell. Water rights are always, & will be a big deal in real estate. Consequently there was considerable confusion on how much the impact fees and studies would cost buyers. Thankfully, the state legislators & governor were able to come up with a win for property owners & would be buyers. This should free up some movement in the land market & help buyers & sellers continue forward on transactions. With incredible pressure on the housing market in our area, more & more clients have been reaching out to learn about buying land & building their dream home. Before this bill, there were too many unknowns for buyers that were just not going to be solved without water rights clarity. Now we can confidently walk & tour properties with more assurance that a property that needs a well, can get a well. That goes a long way when shopping for vacant land.
Have you thought about buying vacant land? Do you want to build your dream home? Tired of living on top of your neighbors? Want goats? All those questions & more are valid & I love to help my buyers find the right land for you! Let me help you today!
You can find more information about the Hirst decision and links for further readings below.
Excerpt from WA Realtor article published 1/19/2018
The final Hirst legislation includes the following components:
- For local building permit and subdivision decisions, local governments do not have to review new exempt wells for “impairment” of instream flows. This reverses the basic legal conclusion of the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision.
- For projects in basins with Ecology-adopted exempt well limits or mitigation requirements, those rules still govern. In other basins, specific allowances for new wells are created in statute. The limit is 950 gallons per day average annual use per connection; other basins are up to 3,000 gallons per day; while other basins (non-GMA counties or areas with no instream flow rules) can again operate under the 5,000 gallon per day exempt well limit.
- Certain areas of state are excluded from the bill and thus these exempt well allowances: the Skagit Basin, and the Yakima Basin (Kittitas, Yakima, and parts of Benton County).
- Existing wells are grandfathered, and deemed to have satisfied the requirement to have a legal water supply under the State Building Code.
- The bill allows local governments to rely on existing Department of Ecology rules for purposes of meeting the requirements of the Growth Management Act.
- There are no new mitigation or metering requirements tied to well construction or new building permits, and there is a one-time fee of $500.