Governor signs Nooksack Water Right Adjudication bill supported by Whatcom County PUD

(Olympia)- Governor Jay Inslee signed into law last week legislation (House Bill 1792) supported by Whatcom County Public Utility District aimed at making it easier for water right holders to file court claims in a Nooksack Water Right Adjudication. The bill, sponsored by Representative Joe Timmons (D-42nd District), prescribes certain timelines, and creates a public input process to enable review and input into the adjudication claim form produced by the State Department of Ecology and used by water right holders when filing claims.

The State Department of Ecology announced it intends to file a water right adjudication in the Nooksack Basin during the next year. The state’s Surface Water Code establishes a general adjudication procedure to determine rights to surface water, ground water, or both. The bill was supported by local governments and water users in the Nooksack Basin including Whatcom PUD, Whatcom County Government, City of Bellingham, Ag Water Board, Lummi Nation, and the Nooksack Tribe.

“Whatcom County PUD is proud of the part we played in helping to create this bill and want to congratulate everyone involved,” said Whatcom County PUD General Manager, Chris Heimgartner. “We are grateful for the leadership of Representative Timmons who successfully advanced the bill through the legislature with unanimous support. His hard work will benefit folks in Whatcom County and the Nooksack Watershed.”

Governor Inslee signed the legislation at a signing ceremony April 20, 2023.
Photo of signing ceremony at right.

April 20, 2023 – Ceremonial Bill Signing – left to right:
Paul Cline, Lummi Natural Resources Endangered Species Act (ESA) Policy Manager
Chris Heimgartner, General Manager, Whatcom PUD
Bill Clarke, WPUDA Lobbyist/Legal Counsel
Tom Dent, State Representative, 13th District
Craig Engelking, Lummi Nation Lobbyist
Governor Jay Inslee
Hayden Jenkins, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Timmons
Alicia Rule, State Representative, 42nd District
Joe Timmons, State Representative, 42nd District
Kaitlin Mastin, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Rule
Andy Ross, Lummi Natural Resources, Water Resources Specialist III/Hydrologist