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Eye On Olympia

Wed., June 11, 2008, 7:12 p.m.

Private developers aren’t cities, judge rules in water-rights case…

From tomorrow's paper:

OLYMPIA _ A King County judge on Wednesday threw out parts of a controversial 2003 state water law Wednesday, throwing into question the water-system expansion plans of potentially hundreds of developers and private water systems statewide.

"It's a pretty big deal that's going to prevent further harm to junior water right holders, in-stream flows and aquifers," said Patrick Williams, an attorney for the Center for Environmental Law and Policy. CELP was one of several environmental groups and six Western Washington Indian tribes challenging the law.

In an oral ruling, Judge Jim Rogers said that state lawmakers went too far five years ago when they classified private water systems and developers as local governments. That allows them to bypass longstanding use-it-or-lose it laws designed to prevent people from claiming more water rights than they can use.

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