From County Councilman Tyler Byrd:

“Make certain you stay involved.. this Hirst legislation is not the end for property owners in rural  Whatcom County who need wells;

Tyler Byrd

we need to continue to be vigilant as the County Council steps through this process.”


The  State Legislature passed its Hirst Fix, not as a consistent solution over the 39

Counties of Washington State but as groups of Watersheds throughout the state.  In Whatcom County’s case  the County Council has had to permanently remove the bar on well development. It did so in an Emergency Ordinance on Jan. 30th 2018.  But now must pass a new version of the January 30th ordinance with a public hearing that did not occur on January 30th.

Current Status in Whatcom County

Hirst update & discussion (The Fourth Corner thanks to Roger Almskaar from Citizens Alliance for Property Rights Whatcom for the following information)

“Tuesday February 13th The County Council will discuss a non-emergency ordinance on relief from the Hirst restrictions, at 9.30 am in a Special Committee of the Whole meeting. There will be a hearing on it, and likely adoption, at 7 pm. Its intended to replace the emergency ordinance adopted Jan 30, and will replace the emergency ordinance within 2 weeks. It will be re-considered in 6 months.”

From Roger Almkaar: “I’ve carefully compared this draft with the emergency ordinance and cannot find any differences.

Here is the Ordinance:  Link to AB2018-057A:

Fourth Corner note: At any time during this process of removing county council restrictions on the use of water; the Council may come up with something which may not be in the best interest of the intentions of the legislature. Check out the Fourth Corner article here. “Can we restrict more”  No matter where you stand on this issue you should be involved.

Further Information

The Department of Ecology has published a 4 page document concerning the implementation of ESSB 6091. The link is below:

Department of Ecology Interpretations of ESSB 6091

Excerpt from Dept of Ecology Document:

“When is Ecology required to amend instream flow rules?
There are two circumstances under which we (dept of ecology) must adopt rules to incorporate plan provisions. In addition, we may adopt rules if we believe it to be necessary for another reason.
In WRIAs identified in Section 202: (WRIA = Water Resource Inventory Area)
(a) If the updated plan recommends a change to the fee or water use limit prescribed in the law; or
(b) If the planning unit fails to adopt an updated watershed plan by their prescribed timeline.”

Meetings on the subject:

….Meetings of Interest:
Whatcom County Council: Tuesday Feb 13th at 7:00 PM Whatcom County Courthhouse

Planning Unit, The WRIA 1 progress occurring, thanks to the Hirst fix bill, and others Next meeting Wed Feb 28, 6 pm County Courthouse.

Surface Water meeting: Feb 20, 10.30 am, “Garden Room; basement”, 322 N Commercial, Bellingham… A County Council committee meeting of all members.

Well Owners and Water Drinkers: Rome Grange; Saturday February 17th 5:00PM-7:00PM.