Category: News

Save the Date – KCBA CLE on March 31, 2016

Tom will be speaking at a King County Bar Association CLE on March 31, 2016 in Seattle.  The half-day seminar covers environmental issues involving drought and fire, and also features Mitch Friedman of Conservation Northwest, Dr. Crystal Raymond of Seattle City Light, Peter Dykstra of Plauche and Carr LLP, and Sharon Haensly of the Squaxin Island Tribe. Tom’s one-hour topic is “The Impact…

Upcoming Seminars and Speaking Engagements

Tom will be speaking at three upcoming seminars on water rights topics. On Thursday, April 14, 2016, at 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Tom will address the Washington Association of Sewer & Water Districts at the Yakima Convention Center in Yakima, Washington on the topic, “Water Availability and Permitting Issues.” On Thursday, June 16, 2016, at 3:00 p.m., Tom will co-instruct on the subject…

Summary Judgment Denied in Bassett Case, But Four-Part Test Issue Survives to Hearing

On January 8, 2016, the Plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion in the matter of Magdalena Bassett, et al., vs. Dep’t of Ecology was argued before Judge Gary Tabor of the Thurston County Superior Court. Bassett is a declaratory judgment action challenging the validity of the Dungeness River Basin instream flow protection rule. The complaint alleges that Ecology exceeded its statutory authority in several respects,…

Potential Legislative and Regulatory Solutions to the Water Availability Train Wreck*

Preservation of the quality and quantity of water in natural rivers, streams and lakes is vital to the long-term health of our environment. The physical and legal availability of water is also essential to the economic health of our state and its diverse urban, suburban and rural communities. The lack of availability of water leads inevitably to building permit moratoriums,…

Supreme Court Bruises Department of Ecology in Foster Opinion

On October 8, 2015, the Washington Supreme Court reversed a water right permit issued by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to the City of Yelm. Two months later, the consequences of this decision are still being sorted out by Ecology, the Attorney General’s Office, and stakeholders. In the meantime, the State’s water rights permitting program has gone off the rails…

Potential Solutions to Washington State’s Post-Swinomish Instream Flow Regulation/Rural Water Supply Dilemma

Department of Ecology officials and stakeholders have been meeting publicly for the last year to discuss post-Swinomish water allocation solutions for rural areas, but their efforts have been stymied by the lack of consensus on legislative or other solutions. New ideas need to be explored and vetted to move beyond common misconceptions and a dysfunctional status quo. The state’s minimum…

2015 Water Law Seminar Agenda is Set

I am very excited about co-hosting this year’s annual  Water Law in Washington seminar by Law Seminars International. We have a stellar line up of professional speakers and will cover numerous current issues of interest to water law practitioners, water users and resource managers. Beginning with an optional “Water Law 101” presentation on the fundamentals of water law, the conference will have a special focus…

Tom is a Speaker at the PNWS-AWWA Spring 2015 Conference in Bellevue

Tom has been invited by the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Water Works Association to speak on the subject of water rights mitigation at their Spring 2015 conference in Bellevue.  His talk “Mitigation as a Tool to Facilitate Water Rights Permitting” is scheduled for Thursday, April 30th at 1:30 p.m.  He will be on a panel with other experts…

Tom will be co-chairing the Annual LSI Water Law Seminar on July 27 & 28 in Seattle

Tom has been a frequent speaker at Law Seminar International’s annual water law seminar, including 1996-98, 2008, 2011-12, and 2014. This year he will co-chair the seminar on July 27 & 28, which will feature panels on drought year water management, challenges to instream flow rules, rural water supply strategies, the intersection of water rights and land use, and science vs. the precautionary principle, in…

Appeals Court Reverses GMHB Ruling re Whatcom County in Hirst Case: Permit-Exempt Wells Not Governed by Nooksack Instream Flow Rule

Whatcom County has won its appeal in a closely watched case at the intersection of water rights and land use law. Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals held that the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board erroneously interpreted the Nooksack Basin Instream Flow Rule, Chapter 173-501 WAC, and reversed the Board’s rulings that Whatcom County was out of…

Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Municipal Water Law (Again)

In what appears to have been an agonizing 6-3 decision by the Washington Supreme Court (it took over 20 months to issue a decision after oral argument), the municipal water law of 2003 has been upheld against an as-applied constitutional challenge.  The new decision in Cornelius v. Wash. Dept. of Ecology, Wash. State Univ., and Wash. Pol. Ctrl. Hearings Bd.,…

Does Your Public Water System Need a Professional Water Right Assessment?

When was the last time your municipal water system hired an experienced water rights attorney to review and assess the scope, validity and status of its water rights portfolio? If you don’t know, or its been over 10 years, your water rights may be at risk. Public water systems have a duty to preserve and protect their water rights for…

Ecology Director Denies Petition to Repeal Skagit Instream Flow Rule

On January 15, 2015, Ecology Director Maia Bellon denied the latest petition to amend or repeal the 2001 Skagit Basin Instream Flow Rule (Chapter 173-503 WAC), which had been reinstated as a result of the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Ecology. The petition was filed in NOvember 2014 by attorney Bill Clarke on behalf of a group of realtors,…

Validity of Dungeness Watershed Management Rule Challenged in new Lawsuit

A Petition for Declaratory Judgment has been filed in Thurston County Superior Court by Olympic Resource Protection Council (ORPC) to determine the validity of the Dungeness Watershed Management Rule. ORPC has been critical of the Dungeness Rule because of its impacts on Clallam County residents, including widespread uncertainty about water availability, inconsistency with local land use authority, and unnecessary costs on development and use…