The Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan for water resources has been ruled illegal by the Washington State Supreme Court. The issue now returns to lower courts and, of course, to the Whatcom County Council. The plan basically piecemealed together regulations allowing excessive development without enough protection for our water supply. Four local enviromentalists: Eric Hirst, Laura Leigh Brakke, Wendy Harris and David Stalheim, took the county to the Growth Management Hearing Board and won a decision saying the county was not complying with state law. The county then challenged this in 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the hearings board decision was overruled. The environmentalists took it to the state Supreme Court and today won a reversal of the appeals court decision.
Thus, the county will have to tighten up the water usage processes of the illegal plan that was put together by the former, very conservative council. Our current, more liberal, and environmentally sensitive council will probably now do very little and will wait to see what might happen next. That seems the routine with other important issues like the Lummi Island ferry, Louws fantasy jail, and relations with the sovereign Lummi Nation.
I am posting the pdf of today's court decision below and thank Elisabeth Britt for forwarding it to me. I hope comments from those who know more about this than I do will help explain it. And I would welcome any of the four litigants to comment or extrapolate on what all this means, as well as those who think this decision is bad for our county. I am open to guest articles pro and con.
The State Supreme Court decision on Whatcom County's Comp plan.