ORPC files lawsuit challenging Dungeness Water Management Rule
Posted Jan. 6, 2015
December 31, 2014 – A Petition for Declaratory Judgment has been filed with the Thurston County Superior Court to determine the validity of the Dungeness Water Management Rule by the Olympic Resource Protection Council (ORPC). ORPC has been critical of the rule because of its significant and unnecessarily costly impacts on Clallam County residents seeking to utilize their properties in a manner that is consistent with established county land use designations and planning policies and with the private well exemption under Washington State water law.
The decision to file a lawsuit comes after ORPC’s earlier effort to address ORPC’s concerns in a more conciliatory manner by utilizing an administrative process. In January 2014, ORPC filed a petition to amend the Dungeness Rule with the Department of Ecology (Ecology). ORPC had hoped this good faith effort to work with Ecology would address concerns raised in the petition and would result in bringing back to the table all stakeholders in order to craft a balanced, lawful and effective water management rule for the Dungeness Basin. Ecology responded by denying ORPC’s petition to amend in March 2014. After Ecology’s denial, fundraising efforts commenced to fund ORPC’s challenge of the Dungeness Rule in court.
ORPC believes that there was improper or inadequate procedural compliance for the Dungeness Rule and that Ecology exceeded their statutory authority, failed to comply with the water code, and implemented a rule that was arbitrary and capricious. As a result, the Dungeness Rule has caused widespread uncertainty, created direct conflicts with local land use planning authority and imposed significant regulatory and transactional costs that are out of proportion to any identified benefits.
ORPC advocates for clear, fair and responsible regulations and seeks to balance environmental protection with property rights, recognizing the importance of both.
ORPC is represented in this matter by Seattle attorney, Thomas M. Pors.
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