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Washington State Municipal Water Law

Case Overview

In 2003, the Washington State legislature passed the Municipal Water Law, which promotes irresponsible development at the expense of junior water rights holders and stream flows for fish. The law redefined "municipal water supplier" to include any private developer with connections for 15 or more homes and allows these developers to benefit from expanded rights granted retroactively to municipalities. It carried out these changes without the state Department of Ecology's usual review of the impacts of the expansion of a water right. The law therefore violated the due process rights of water-rights holders. It also violated the separation of powers by retroactively overruling a decision of the Washington Supreme Court.

In June 2008, a judge ruled that the state legislature overreached by redefining developers as "municipal water suppliers."

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Case Updates

October 1, 2012 | In the News: The Columbian

Clark County loses stormwater ruling

Washington Court of Appeals has upheld tough new rules governing polluted storm water runoff in Washington state.

Jan Hasselman, Seattle attorney for Earthjustice, said in a statement that it’s time for Clark County to stop fighting environmental protections. “At some point, there’s going to be some accountability,” Hasselman added. “Our first choice is always to sit down and work out a solution that does the most for the environment.”