There’s another interesting farmers-versus-environmentalists water battle shaping up in the statehouse this year.
Farm groups are backing a reform that sounds utterly common-sense: changing decades-old laws that require farmers to use every drop of their water allocation or, after a few years of failing to do so, losing that valuable water right.
“It’s better to leave it in the ground than pump out on the ground and let it evaporate,” Craig Grub, with the Spokane County Cattlemen, told lawmakers at a yearing recently.
But it’s not that simple, environmental groups responded. They say that allowing people to sit on their water rights indefinitely, instead of putting them to beneficial use, would allow people who don’t actually need water to keep an unfair hold on it.
State Rep. John McCoy, D-Marysville, repeatedly made it clear that he wants wells metered to ensure that people aren’t pumping too much.
“Without meters,” he asked cattle ranchers, “how can you tell us that your’e conserving water and only using what you’re supposed to?”