Funding of our fight to protect water rights continues. Franklin County Cattlemen has generously donated $2500.00 to Washington Ag Legal Foundation AND an additional $2500.00 to Washington Farm Bureau Legal Foundation. Franklin County Cattlemen asked to challenge all other counties to make similar donations to continue with the fight to protect private property and water rights. Please contact me for where to send the funds.
DOE has finally started their assessments. DOE has been through Whitman County and we are waiting for their conclusions. We have asked to be informed as to whom they are sending the letters to prior to the sending of those letters and have been told that we will be informed. That request has been made to multiple people within DOE by multiple parties. It is important that WCA know who will be receiving these letters so that we can reach out to assist our members and anyone else that needs help. Through the DOE Advisory Group we are making headway with our requests to DOE to be more transparent in their efforts and set specific goals so that landowners know what DOE is looking for in water quality. Clearly there is a long way to go in our efforts to protect our rights as landowners, but we are making progress with DOE to make it so landowners feel that they can use their property. Our next DOE Advisory Group meeting will be June 4, 2015 at Sprague, WA. As always, spectators are welcome to come and listen to the issues that we are dealing it.
The biggest issue, in my mind, is the Guidance document that the DOE subcommittee is working on. This document is based on Tip Hudson’s Risk Assessment Tool, but in the months that we have been working on it, it has really changed. We had a charged meeting on language April 16, 2015 due to the act that certain members of the group want it to read much stronger than the ag groups. Luckily ag groups are well represented on the subcommittee, as is common sense. I do not know if the Guidance document will be out for review at the next meeting, but we are getting close. With that said, WCA is in favor of having this document out for producers to have some document to look to in making management decisions, but we do not support the document in its entirety. This is a compromise document that should be used only for guidance in making decisions.
The second biggest issue is the redrafting of the CAFO permits. This is an issue that clearly impacts agriculture and anyone that has to obtain a permit for their operation. During the redrafting process, WCA as well as stakeholders, have an opportunity to comment and try to make positive changes to the process. Please speak out if you have an issue. Let someone at WCA know or come to a meeting and talk about the process with us.
On April 18, 2015 I had the opportunity to speak at the WSDCC Agriculture and Rural Caucus meeting on water law. This was a great opportunity to talk to a group that I do not see in my everyday life. Continuing to educate, discuss, make aware, and just meet people, bringing awareness of these issues really has been my goal and continues to be my goal. There was a great turnout and a great response to my discussion. Afterward quite a few people came and spoke to me about the issues that they see facing them in their lives. I always welcome the opportunity to talk to people about water law. This same group was able to tour the George Deruyter Dairy the day before, so got to see one of the top working dairies that we have in Washington.
As always, continuing to fight for property and water rights is very time consuming, but the last year has shown some positive improvements that keep the fight going. Please remember that even though there are lots of volunteers, like me, there are still costs to this fight and all donations, big or small, are very welcome and needed.