WCA hopes to intervene in stockwater case

Aug 28, 2009
by WLJ
WCA hopes to intervene in stockwater case

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association (WCA), the oldest organization representing cow/calf and stocker producers throughout Washington, has just submitted its documents to Thurston County’s Superior Court outlining its request to intervene in the Five Corners Family Farmers, Scott Collin, the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Sierra Club v. State of Washington, Department of Ecology and Easterday Ranches Inc. in a lawsuit that challenges the groundwater exemption for stockwatering.

WCA Executive Vice President Jack Field, said “This is the biggest challenge to face the livestock industry since the RCW 90.44.050 was passed into law in 1945.” The plaintiffs are asking for a summary judgment on whether or not stock watering is limited to 5,000 gallons per day under RCW 90.44.050 and whether or not livestock operations that drill wells under RCW 90.44.050 are required to obtain a groundwater permit prior to drilling or using a stockwater well. The plaintiffs claim that the exemption within RCW 90.44.050 is not exempt and unlimited but rather it is “limited to family subsistence farming.”

Jack Field, WCA executive vice president, said, “We filed our request to intervene with Thurston County Superior Court because the WCA executive committee wanted to be sure that the historical reliance and importance of the exemption to foragebased operators was clearly represented in the court.” Field went on to say, “No other group or defendant can represent the issues and concerns of forage based-operators better than the WCA.” This stockwater case has the potential to drastically change the future of the livestock industry in Washington state. As a result, the WCA strongly believes, as Field stated, “We need to be a party in the court action.”

This is going to be a very costly case and one that the entire livestock industry cannot afford to loose. As a forage-based operation, “Without water you do not have anything,” said Field.

WCA President Dick Coon Jr., of Benge, WA, has raised a challenge to every cow/calf and stocker operator in Washington state to send a donation of $1 per head of cattle that they manage to the WCA Litigation Account to help the WCA win the battle of successfully defending your stockwater rights.

“This request to intervene is just another example of how the WCA continues to work tirelessly for the entire beef industry to protect your property rights,” Coon said. He continued, “We need every producer, member or not of the WCA, to send in their $1 per head donation. We cannot afford to loose this fight!” Donations can be sent to: WCA Litigation Account, c/o Stockwater Case, P.O. Box 96, Ellensburg, WA 98926. — WLJ