Dye continues dialogue for change for rural Washingtonians struggling with the consequences of the Hirst decision

Washingtonians face an unprecedented uncertainty created by the state Supreme Court's Hirst decision. As the Legislature has failed to correct this decision, rural Washingtonians are feeling the dire effects of this ruling. Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, knows firsthand the consequences this decision has on rural property owners. She continues to fight hard to find a bipartisan solution to ease the struggle so many are facing.

“The Hirst decision is a catastrophic event to happen to our property rights. It's assumed when you have a piece of property, that you have the right to the water under that property to use to develop your home or to manage whatever livestock you have on your land,” said Dye. “To have an entire body of water law overturned is shocking. It is part of the American promise. It is part of our DNA as Americans that we can settle on our own land, build our homes, and live our lives. What's been created is a whole bunch of have-nots that are sitting on a bunch of land that has no value without the water. To have that water right taken away from us by a single court decision is just beyond my imagination.”

The Hirst decision, implemented just a little over a year ago, has prevented people across the state from drilling wells on their private property. The battle continues across the urban-rural divide to find a comprehensive, bipartisan solution to this economic devastation. Urban areas get much of their water from the rural parts of the state. This is the same water that the high court's ruling now denies rural Washingtonians to access, on their own private property.

“We are looking at a situation where we are really struggling for the memory of who we are in our DNA as Americans. The promise was you could come and own your land and have your life to be free to pursue the things that are the highest priorities,” continued Dye. “Rural Washingtonians just want to be able to be free people on their private land, to utilize the resources granted to us by a deed, and have that honored. This has been the American promise from the beginning.”

The Senate passed a bipartisan solution four times during the 2017 legislative session. Unfortunately, this solution did not gain traction in the House. Lawmakers continue to work hard to find a viable solution to ease the personal burdens placed on hardworking families, and the economic devastation this ruling has caused so many across Washington state.


Washington State House Republican Communications