S-1829.1  _______________________________________________





State of Washington      55th Legislature     1997 Regular Session


By Senators Morton, Snyder, McDonald, Loveland, Haugen, Sellar, Prince, Rasmussen, Hochstatter, Bauer, Winsley, Newhouse, Hargrove, Hale, Anderson, Schow, Spanel, McCaslin, Stevens, Strannigan, Fraser, Franklin and Roach


Read first time 02/24/97.  Referred to Committee on Agriculture & Environment.

Creating a water resource policy report to analyze and explain water resource statutes and rules.

    WHEREAS, The Water Resource Statutes are written in a broad manner and as a result there is a wide range of different interpretations of  the law which causes much confusion; and

    WHEREAS, This situation creates major problems for the Department of Ecology and water users throughout the state; and

    WHEREAS, This situation causes considerable delays and much higher costs for the Department of Ecology and water users; and

    WHEREAS, An unusually large number of water right appeals of the Department of Ecology actions have overloaded the Pollution Control Hearings Board and the subsequent appeals of the Hearings Board's decisions to the courts have escalated costs and delays; and

    WHEREAS, The efforts of any group assigned the task of developing additional or different state policies and procedures need independent, unbiased, and nonpartisan analysis and explanation of the current hard- to-interpret statutes; and

    WHEREAS, The analysis and the explanation in the water resource law report as outlined in this concurrent resolution will put the legislators and other interested parties in the best possible position to proceed in clarifying the complex Water Resource Statutes and Rules; and

    WHEREAS, The appropriate standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives need to prepare proposed legislation to clarify the Water Resource Statutes, using independent expert's analysis for guidance; and

    WHEREAS, The proposed legislation will be considered for adoption by the 1998 legislature and for the use of official groups assigned to study water resource policy;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the Senate of the state of Washington, the House of Representatives concurring, That the legislature directs the Agriculture and Environment Committee of the Senate and the Agriculture and Ecology Committee of the House of Representatives to adopt the process as outlined in this concurrent resolution.  It is the intent of the legislature that the standing committees prepare proposed legislation to be considered for adoption by the legislature that will clarify water resource statutory language.  This process is not intended to change state policy.  The project will commence by the chairs of the two committees employing two professional experts, one being an independent attorney, and the other a consultant, who both have extensive experience in water law and its implementation.  The experts will (1) conduct a thorough analysis of the pertinent RCW's and WAC's concerning potential interpretations and application of the water resource law and (2) explain, in their report, how various interpretations relate to current RCW language and WAC rules and the implementation of the statutes and rules; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the following schedule and actions apply:

    (1) By April 1, 1997, the chairs will hire the two experts.

    (2) By June 1, 1997, the experts will complete a draft of the water resource law report, which includes the analysis and explanation.

    (3) By June 15, 1997, the Department of Ecology will respond to the draft report.

    (4) By August 1, 1997, the experts will report to the two full standing committees for comment.

    (5) By September 1, 1997, the experts will submit their final report to the committee members.

    (6) By October 1, 1997, the standing committees will distribute the report and hold public hearings.

    (7) By October 15, 1997, the committees will accept the report as final.

    (8) By December 15, 1997, the standing committees will adopt statutory clarifying amendments consistent with the intent of this concurrent resolution for presentation to the 1998 legislative session or for the use of any official body working on water resource law and policy.

    A sum of no more than $48,900 of general fund moneys may be used.  If the specific funding for the purposes of this concurrent resolution to prepare the water resource law report, is not provided by June 30, 1997, in the omnibus appropriations act, the report required under this concurrent resolution is null and void.


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