Retired Couple denied building permit because of Skagit County’s Exempt Well fiasco


Last Summer we featured a case that may well affect all rural property owners who depend on the current exempt well status to insure that they will have the right to access water on their property through a private well.

2014-07-25_1230Fox’s vs. Skagit County, Dept. of Ecology and the Swinomish Indians

If you wonder why the things are so messed up in Washington State, you have no further to look than the idiotic lengths that our own governments will go to insure that private land owners will no longer have adequate access to water…even when it’s available. The Fox’s have the water, they had their property divided up, they had everything ready to go rightfully in their effort to build their retirement home. Now their golden years are being consumed by bogus arguments that there’s not enough water. (Read more)


Gary Hagland, from Skagit County’s Citizen’s Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) sent this email to me:

Yesterday the Fox’s were dealt another blow as our political representatives and our court rooms fail to protect the people’s right to water.

The courtroom was packed this afternoon.  Except for Chairman Cladoosby and one or two underlings, everyone supported Richard and Marnie Fox.  Thanks to all who showed up. Unfortunately, the building permit was denied.  The SVH put out this report within a couple of hours after the decision.  We will probably see more tomorrow.

Fox couple’s legal quest for building permit denied

Skagit Valley Herald staff | Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 5:54 pm

EVERETT — A Snohomish County Superior Court judge has rejected the motion of Richard and Marnie Fox, the Sedro-Woolley-area couple who sought to use their well water for residential use after a 2013 state Supreme Court ruling invalidated their water rights.

In a ruling issued Tuesday afternoon, the judge said the state Department of Ecology’s 2001 Skagit River instream flow rule is the law and that he did not have the authority to invalidate it. (Read more)

Zack Barbonias from Just Water Alliance has a timeline of reading material on the Fox’s quest for their exempt well water right and how this injustice has come to be:

JUST WATER ALLIANCE: The “science” behind this rule was complete (June 1999) and they STILL allowed for well use during Draft Versions of the Rule (February 2000).    Ecology’s science did not support this well moratorium then, and it does not support it now. (Read more)

Well owners are a minute piece of water use that returns up to 95% of the water they use back into the watershed and have no measured effect on water levels in our streams and rivers. That is not the case for municipal and industrial use of water, but then again the Fourth Corner of Washington State has so much water that this issue is a red herring anyway. The end game is to nudge people off of their rural property for the long term goal of having people live in Seattle type, metropolitan hubs, that can be easily serviced. Why do they want the people to live  pack’em and stack’em lifestyles? Because some people who believe they are wiser than you have decided that our natural resources are endangered and that we’ll all be happier if we follow ideas such as those proposed at things like, this American Planning Society conference. It is not deniable that large metropolitan areas support a lot of people and culture. But, many people desire to live a rural lifestyle. That lifestyle was protected when our State was created by water law to allow permitted exempt wells and it insures the peoples right to access and extract water which sustains their ability to live and work on their land.

Time to contact your State Legislators to start representing the families, farms and people who depend on them. Our political leaders can fix this and the people must demand it. People need to standup and demand that they stop the taking of private properties through bad science.

~ Kris Halterman

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