Local News

Washington Supreme Court ruling affects new wells

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - Spokane County real estate agents and land developers are fired up about a recent court decision that could slow down growth in outlying areas.

The recent Washington State Supreme Court ruling affects anyone hoping to dig a new well in Spokane County.

"They're going to have more costs and it's already extremely expensive. You saw the drill rig, that process and that equipment costs a lot of money so it's just going to increase the cost," Marty Jensen, Fogle Pump and Supply, said.

Up until now, if you owned land that could support a well that's capable of pumping more than a gallon per minute and wasn't polluted, the water was yours for the taking. But because of the Supreme Court's decision, you now have to prove that the water is there and that your new well isn't going to impact the water rights of people or businesses already using it.

"Well simply, the applicant will need to provide information that demonstrates that their proposed well will not impair any senior water rights," Rob Lindsay, Spokane County Water Resources Manager, said.

Those senior water rights could belong to your nearest neighbor or a company you've never heard of. Before an outfit like Fogle Pump and Supply will even consider hauling a drill rig to your rural property, you'll have to spend a lot of money on a hydrogeologist.

"And the way they're going to do that is, I think first, is to get a hydrogeologist. Pay him to come out and do an assessment on your property so that you can prove legal and quantity of water through the hydrogeologist," Jensen said.

Because those restrictions could threaten new growth and development in Spokane County, the rush is on at the Public Works building to get as many building permits approved before the new regulations take effect as early as October 27.