Environment Committee

 Environment Committee Members and Functions


Public Comments are due by no later than March 8, 2018, on the draft Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) Regional Open Space Conservation Plan.  View the Plan and related information here: PSRC Regional Open Space Conservation Plan.

PSRC is developing a regional plan to accelerate the conservation of open space now and into the future. Trails, parks, forests, farms and many other kinds of open space make the Puget Sound region a special place to live.  The Regional Open Space Conservation Plan will knit together open space and related plans from counties, tribes, resource agencies, salmon recovery groups, and other organizations. The plan will identify and elevate these open space needs to attract funding and support.  The draft Regional Open Space Conservation Plan is ready for review. Comments are encouraged during the board review period, which extends to March 8, 2018.  Please send your comments on the draft plan to openspace@psrc.org. If you have a specific area of interest, such as farmland preservation, please indicate that in your comments.  Comments are encouraged through March 8, 2018. The plan will be completed by summer 2018.



Established:  March 2008


Chair: Rhys Sterling
Vice-Chair: Susan Harvey
Members: Hendrick Haynes, Warren Iverson, and Sue Neuner

Mission:  Study environment, regional parks, historic landmarks, natural habitats, water quality, flood control and surface water management, wastewater, and solid waste.

Major Activities: The Committee led the following Area Council efforts:  King County Noise Ordinance Comment Letter; John Henry Mine Permit Review; Urban-Serving Facilities and Retention Ponds; King County Code Amendments; Landsburg Mine Cleanup Plan.

Support Activities: The Committee supported the following Area Council efforts:  King County Comprehensive Plan Updates; King County Code Amendments; Reserve Silica Mine cleanup and site rehabilitation; Marijuana Growing and Processing Operations; Asphalt Plant and other development proposals in the Rural Area.

Issues: Committee research supported the following Area Council correspondence:  Reserve Silica “Demonstration Project”; Pacific Raceways Ordinance; Seattle Seawall; Surface Water Management Fees; Erickson Logging Objections; Maple Valley Farmers’ Market; Puget Sound Clean Air Agency; Ravensdale Park.

For more information on any of the foregoing matters, please visit our GMVUAC Correspondence section for copies of GMVUAC Articles and Letters relating to this Committee.


The GMVUAC has been tracking the proposed start-up of coal mining at the John Henry Mine located just outside of Black Diamond towards the Green River.  Relevant documents available include the federal Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for this project.  The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement is the lead agency; however, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review have substantial interests in this proposal and have each submitted detailed comments to the federal OSMRE.  The Environmental Assessment, initial OSMRE comments, and the comments on this proposal submitted by the GMVUAC, DPER, and DNR may be viewed here: John Henry Mine Environmental Assessment ; 2014 OSMRE Application Review ; 2014 GMVUAC Comment Letter ; 2014 DPER Comment Letter ; 2017 DPER Comment Letter2017 DNR Comment Letter .  The GMVUAC will post updates regarding this proposal as such become available.


OSS BILL HB 2420 NOW SITS IN STATE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, AND TECHNOLOGY — HEARING FEBRUARY 21 AT 8:00 AM.  Keep an eye on HB 2420 regarding onsite sewage systems as it works its way through this session of the State Legislature.  For detailed information and status on this Bill, including any upcoming hearings, please visit the following legislative website:  HB 2420 Legislative History .  CAPR (Citizens’ Alliance For Property Rights) has produced and published on YouTube ™ a video presentation of onsite sewage systems, how they function, and their environmental impact (or lack thereof).  With the express written permission of CAPR (by and through its Secretary, Jeff Wright) given to the GMVUAC on January 16, 2018, you may view CAPR’s production at the following website: The Truth About Septic Systems .  Please visit our Citizen Surveys webpage to view the results of our 2017 Survey, and especially the responses to our questions regarding sewage systems.  See Questions 29 – 33.


With an effective date of January 19, 2018, the Washington State Legislature enacted, and signed into law by Governor Inslee, 2018 Laws of Washington, Chapter 2 (ESSB 6091), that sets forth the legislative fix to the Washington Supreme Court’s Hirst decision.  The Hirst decision may be viewed here: Whatcom County v Hirst and the Legislature’s fix may be viewed here: Ch 2_Laws of 2018_ESSB 6091 .  In brief, the effect of the Hirst decision was to, in addressing what constitutes compliance by the applicant for a building permit with the requirements of RCW 19.27.097 (set forth in full hereinbelow) to provide ‘evidence of an adequate water supply for the intended use of the building’, impose on the applicant for a building/development permit the requirement to prove that, although water was legally available and exempt from groundwater withdrawal permit requirements pursuant to RCW 90.44.050 (set forth in full hereinbelow, but generally exempts domestic/agricultural groundwater withdrawals not exceeding 5,000 gpd and 1/2 acre of irrigation), water was also factually available and its proposed withdrawal of otherwise exempt quantities would not adversely affect other water sources, including surface water bodies.  What the legislative fix provides in brief is, subject to a number of regulatory studies and requirements and deadlines and depending within which designated Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) the well is located, groundwater withdrawals not exceeding an annual average of 950 – 3,000 gpd for domestic use, and otherwise exempt from permit requirements pursuant to RCW 90.44.050, are exempt from the Hirst decision’s requirement of proof in fact of no adverse affect.  See Laws of 2018, Ch. 2, Sections 202(1) and 202(5)(f)(ii).  However, an applicant will be required to pay a ‘fee’ of $500 to the permitting authority in order to receive the benefit of this exception.  Section 202(5)(f)(i).  Jill Dvorkin, attorney and legal consultant to the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC), has authored a very good summary of the new law and its WRIA-dependent requirements and limitations.  Read Ms Dvorkin’s article here: Legislature Addresses Whatcom County v. Hirst (c) ; view the WRIA statewide map here: WRIA_Dept of Ecology_State Map ; and the Lake Washington-Cedar River Watershed map here: Lake Washington_Cedar River_WRIA 8 Map .  The current GMVUAC service area falls within WRIA 8 (otherwise exempt wells subject to $500 fee and 950 gpd limit).  It will take some time to see how the legislative fix to the Hirst decision actually works in the real and practical world — the GMVUAC will do our best to keep the public apprised of regulatory progress on this matter.  Please visit our Citizen Surveys webpage to view the results of our 2017 Survey, and especially the public sentiments regarding the Hirst decision and the right to use water.  See Questions 14, 21 – 24.

RCW 19.27.097   Building permit application—Evidence of adequate water supply—Applicability—Exemption.  (1) Each applicant for a building permit of a building necessitating potable water shall provide evidence of an adequate water supply for the intended use of the building. Evidence may be in the form of a water right permit from the department of ecology, a letter from an approved water purveyor stating the ability to provide water, or another form sufficient to verify the existence of an adequate water supply. In addition to other authorities, the county or city may impose conditions on building permits requiring connection to an existing public water system where the existing system is willing and able to provide safe and reliable potable water to the applicant with reasonable economy and efficiency. An application for a water right shall not be sufficient proof of an adequate water supply.  (2) Within counties not required or not choosing to plan pursuant to RCW 36.70A.040, the county and the state may mutually determine those areas in the county in which the requirements of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply. The departments of health and ecology shall coordinate on the implementation of this section. Should the county and the state fail to mutually determine those areas to be designated pursuant to this subsection, the county may petition the department of enterprise services to mediate or, if necessary, make the determination.  (3) Buildings that do not need potable water facilities are exempt from the provisions of this section. The department of ecology, after consultation with local governments, may adopt rules to implement this section, which may recognize differences between high-growth and low-growth counties.  [ 2015 c 225 § 17; 2010 c 271 § 302; 1995 c 399 § 9; 1991 sp.s. c 32 § 28; 1990 1st ex.s. c 17 § 63.]

RCW 90.44.050     Permit to withdraw.   After June 6, 1945, no withdrawal of public groundwaters of the state shall be begun, nor shall any well or other works for such withdrawal be constructed, unless an application to appropriate such waters has been made to the department and a permit has been granted by it as herein provided: EXCEPT, HOWEVER, That any withdrawal of public groundwaters for stock-watering purposes, or for the watering of a lawn or of a noncommercial garden not exceeding one-half acre in area, or for single or group domestic uses in an amount not exceeding five thousand gallons a day, or as provided in RCW 90.44.052, or for an industrial purpose in an amount not exceeding five thousand gallons a day, is and shall be exempt from the provisions of this section, but, to the extent that it is regularly used beneficially, shall be entitled to a right equal to that established by a permit issued under the provisions of this chapter: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the department from time to time may require the person or agency making any such small withdrawal to furnish information as to the means for and the quantity of that withdrawal: PROVIDED, FURTHER, That at the option of the party making withdrawals of groundwaters of the state not exceeding five thousand gallons per day, applications under this section or declarations under RCW 90.44.090 may be filed and permits and certificates obtained in the same manner and under the same requirements as is in this chapter provided in the case of withdrawals in excess of five thousand gallons a day.  [ 2003 c 307 § 1; 1987 c 109 § 108; 1947 c 122 § 1; 1945 c 263 § 5; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 7400-5.]

Visit our Current Issues section to learn more about those specific projects the GMVUAC through its Environment Committee is currently working on with and for our rural area residents:

Asphalt Plant         Asphalt Facility

Reserve Silica        Reserve Silica

Maple Valley

We serve those that live in the Tahoma School District, but not in the city limits of Maple Valley

Service Area Stats

Established: 1977
Population: 16,100 (2010 Census)
Area: 116 sq mi