OLYMPIA, Washington — An agreement was reached on a bill that preserves the ability of rural property owners to drill new wells for household use. Also, State Sen. Maureen Walsh (R-College Place) says the capital budget will bring around $9 million to projects in the Walla Walla Valley.
The budget for this year will fund projects across the state. The projects include: $900,000 allotted to the City of College Place to help build a new well to replace failing wells serving the city’s water system, $335,000 from the Department of Commerce Building for the Arts that will go to the GESA Power House Theater in Walla Walla, $90,000 going to foundation and exterior repairs at the Kirkman House Museum in Walla Walla, $318,000 which will help cleanup the Scherwin Concaves site in Walla Walla, and $4.6 million will go toward repairs and maintenance to community colleges in the 16th district.
The capital budget also provides loans around $7 million to the City of Walla Walla for improvements to Isaacs Avenue and the Sudbury Landfill.
In addition, Walsh says that finding a compromise on the water bill was difficult, but once it was reached, everything fell into place quickly.
“It was a victory for the thousands of rural families who faced ruin for lack of water, for the taxpayers across the state who would have had to assume the burden created by plummeting property values, and for everyone with something at stake in the capital budget,” Walsh said in a statement. “And it was a major relief for those of us who serve in the Legislature and had hoped we would find our way to a solution.”
The water issue was prompted by a lawsuit from environmental groups and a 2016 Supreme Court ruling in their favor, which did away with water law that allowed rural property owners to drill wells for their homes and gardens.
“Like most political compromises, our solution to the rural water crisis is imperfect, as it places unnecessary restrictions and costs on rural property owners,” says Walsh. “The final deal also requires watershed planning of the sort we already have seen in Walla Walla County.”