Buys introduces legislation to clarify definition of a ‘well’ to keep farmers out of the regulation hole

Rep. Vincent Buys has introduced legislation to provide some much-needed clarification of what constitutes a “well” to prevent the agricultural community from having to contend with more state regulation.

Buys, R-Lynden, says House Bill 1467 seems like a simple measure, but if a solid definition of “well” is not placed in statute, the ramifications could be far reaching and detrimental to the agricultural community.

“Current well installation requirements in state law are being reinterpreted. It has come to my attention that the Washington State Department of Ecology is considering regulation for simple actions, such as surface soil sampling and evaluation,” Buys said. “The agricultural community is afraid any hole drilled or created just to check water tables, groundwater samples, or measure moisture could be subject to the well permit process and classified as a well.”

Buys is concerned because the department already enforces well installation requirements, and within the last year decided under the current definition there is potential for expanding the enforcement.

“I have received messages from farmers and even soil scientists who evaluate and collect soil samples and excavated hundreds of holes as part of their work. They truly believe that if the department decides to enforce the law as currently written, and to its fullest extent, the implications could be great,” he said. “Personally, I have concerns the law could be enforced in a reasonable manner if they decided to move forward. I also fear the potential cost every time a meter or soil probe is put in the ground and a farmer or scientist has to contact DOE to inform them they are digging a hole.

“We can resolve all of this easily by tightening the definition and it will be a non-issue. It will put some of the fears of our agricultural community to rest. We continually talk about how difficult it is for our small business and farms, and this is a great example of what they have to deal with unless we step in.”

Rep. Buys bill is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.



Washington State House Republican Communications