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War Of The Wells: Hirst Decision Draws Stealthy Demonstration To Washington Capitol

Jeanie Lindsay
Northwest News Network
Members of the Building Industry Association of Washington gathered in front of the Washington Supreme Court before distributing water bottles to lawmakers and their staff.

Last fall, the Washington Supreme Court made a decision many home builders and landowners call harmful. The ruling, known as the Hirst decision, requires counties to ensure adequate water supply before granting a permit to build.

At the state Capitol Tuesday, demonstrators knocked on lawmakers’ doors to push for new policy on the issue. Michael Fast, who owns a construction company in Tacoma, said the ruling put families who already own land in a precarious situation.

“They’ve put all their money and all their life savings into this piece of property to build their family house on it, and they can’t get a building permit,” Fast said.

Armed with bags full of politically-charged water bottles, the demonstrators made deliveries to legislative offices. They hoped to send a clear message.

“We have water bottles and what’s inside of them is nothing. There is no water in these bottles. There’s just empty houses at the bottom,” Fast said. “We need to be able to fill the water bottles. All we are asking for is people to have water to live.”

Republicans have said addressing this issue is a top priority.