Methow Inspired Water Legislation to Get House Hearing in Olympia on Friday 1/31/20
Photo by Methow Conservancy Staff

Methow Inspired Water Legislation to Get House Hearing in Olympia on Friday 1/31/20

We have been working with key collaborators in the Methow Valley to ensure local agricultural water remains in the Valley. Momentum has built quickly. 12th District Representatives Keith Goehner and Mike Steele have introduced a bill that would prevent transfers of limited agricultural water resources out of certain headwater basins east of the Cascade Mountains and block water speculators. There will be a hearing on this bill on Friday, the 31st. If you would like to learn more about the bill and/or comment on it electronically, you can do so here.

Below is a press release providing more information:

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2020

For More Information contact: Mary McCrea, Spokesperson
(509 )997-0527 or (360) 202-2396

Methow Inspired Water Legislation to Get House Hearing in Olympia on Friday

After strong community opposition defeated the proposal by a New York investment firm to buy agricultural water rights, transfer the water out of the Methow watershed, and sell it downstream on the Columbia River, local advocates have worked through the fall to garner support for new legislation that would prohibit such out of basin transfers.

HB 2866, introduced on Monday, January 27th by 12th District Representative Keith Goehner, would prevent transfers of limited agricultural water resources out of certain headwater basins east of the Cascade Mountains and block water speculators.

Retired Methow Valley water attorney and Twisp resident, Mary McCrea, spokesperson for the grass-roots effort said, "It has been encouraging to see that this is an issue that unites people across the political spectrum. Anyone who values local agriculture understands that once we lose our limited water downstream, there is virtually no way to get it back. In this era of a changing climate and a recognition of the value of agriculture, especially small farms, in our valley, why would we ever encourage practices that reduce our agricultural viability and increase wildfire risk in our communities?"

"We are so appreciative of our 12th District legislators, including Representatives Goehner and Steele and Senator Hawkins. We absolutely would not be celebrating this milestone without Rep. Goehner and Rep. Steele who listened carefully to our concerns and sponsored this common-sense piece of legislation needed by headwater basins in eastern Washington where agricultural water resources are already so limited" said McCrea.

HB 2866 has been scheduled for a hearing before the House Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee on Friday, January 31st at 10 a.m. in Olympia. McCrea said that work is underway to get a group of locals with first-hand knowledge of the issue to Olympia to testify in person on Friday, while also engaging the broader community.

"We know that Olympia is a long drive for people this time of year" said McCrea, "but we encourage anyone who is concerned with the ability of corporate water raiders to strip water from our valley, leaving fields fallow and increasing wildfire risk, to find HB 2866 online and submit electronic comments in support of the bill. "This includes anyone across the State who knows and loves the Methow Valley," said McCrea "Even if you live in western Washington, please help us elevate this issue and the common-sense solution provided by HB 2866 with your Representatives and Senator as well!"

McCrea and those working this issue with her are also closely watching other legislation which may provide an opportunity to at least temporarily halt out of basin transfers should HB 2866 not advance out of Committee. "Things move fast in Olympia, and we will be watching for opportunities to ask for future support from our community as things unfold in the coming days and weeks of this short Legislative Session" said McCrea. "But for now, we sense real momentum and a recognition that the time for action in support of watershed communities like the Methow Valley is now!"

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