first_imgChris Horne, a deputy prosecuting attorney who provides legal advice to the Clark County council, began a work session on Wednesday by stating that there are no “silver bullets” to deal with the challenges posed by a state Supreme Court case that’s expected to significantly complicate water availability and possibly growth in Clark County.“There’s not going to be an easy answer that tells you you must go a particular direction or another one that says you don’t have to do anything,” Horne told members of the county council, staff and members of the public who attended a work session Wednesday.The topic was the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision. Issued in October, the court’s ruling determined that under the state’s Growth Management Act, county governments must ensure that water is legally available for new developments before issuing building permits.The decision has particular consequences for permit-exempt wells. Those are groundwater wells that serve single homes or small subdivisions and are exempt from permitting requirements if they draw no more than 5,000 gallons of water each day. These wells often are used to accommodate growth in rural areas, and as a result of the ruling county governments must independently verify that these wells won’t affect minimum stream flows or water rights held by other property owners.Horne said that Whatcom County, where the case originated, adopted a moratorium on building permits in response to the ruling. Later this month, a new ordinance will go into effect in Whatcom County requiring the county to verify the availability of water before issuing building permits. Spokane, Okanogan and Pierce counties also have passed legislation in response to the ruling.last_img

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