Here’s an AP story that details the decision of the state Supreme Court to uphold the 2003 Municipal Water Law:
The Washington State Supreme on Thursday unanimously upheld changes the Legislature made to state water law in 2003 – changes that environmentalists fear will encourage sprawl and water speculation.
The changes included characterizing some developments as municipalities – and allowing them to keep the rights to as much water as their system can handle, even if they haven’t historically used that water.
Several American Indian tribes, individuals and environmental groups challenged the changes. They said the Legislature improperly overruled a prior Supreme Court decision and violated the due process rights of people who could lose access to water under the changes.
The justices said Thursday the changes were, on their face, constitutional but suggested they would entertain challenges later on if people claimed to be specifically harmed.
The state Department of Ecology posted a press release on the decision here.
The Foster Pepper law firm also posted a detailed analysis of the decision:
The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that key provisions of the Municipal Water Law (MWL) are facially constitutional.1 The ruling affects water rights across Washington State, upholding the flexibility and certainty that the MWL provides to purveyors, municipalities, and other “municipal water suppliers.” However, the Court stressed that the ruling is limited to the “facial constitutional challenges” that were before the Court, leaving room for consideration of similar claims in the future that may be advanced under “as applied” challenges.