Conservationists and small eastern Washington farmers have been dealt a blow by the state's high court over the increasingly touchy issue of water rights.
Livestock operations in Washington -- even those involving large feedlots or dairies with thousands of animals -- have unlimited access to groundwater, and are not bound by permits or the rights of senior users. So said the Washington Supreme Court Thursday in a ruling involving small farmers arrayed against a 30,000-head feedlot in Eltopia, a hamlet near the Tri-Cities.
The closely watched case put the Franklin County farmers and conservationists in a blue funk. Spokane water lawyer Rachael Paschal Osborn was mystified and angered by the ruling: "When you have one type of water user who is already being told that they have to shut off their water use during a drought year how could you possibly have a stock water operation come in and begin to use water in that system? All of the water is allocated, it's all accounted for," Osborn says.
By a six to three majority, the high court ruled that the state legislature exempted livestock operations from the state well permitting process.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.