Orondo Fruit Company: Water Right Relinquishment and the "Determined Future Development" Exemption
In a feature article in the December 2011 issue of Western Water Law & Policy Reporter, Tupper Mack Wells attorney Sarah Mack addresses a significant PCHB decision applying Washington’s water right relinquishment statute, Orondo Fruit Company, et al., v. Ecology, PCHB Nos. 10-164 and 10-165 (2011). The PCHB’s unanimous ruling is a dramatic repudiation of the Department of Ecology’s overly-restrictive legal interpretations and approach to reviewing water conservancy board decisions.
In Orondo, the PCHB has brought much-needed clarity and common sense to application of the “determined future development” exemption from relinquishment. The PCHB decision also illuminates flaws in the water conservancy board decisionmaking process, which allows Ecology to raise an ever-changing series of objections that “may have caught the applicants in the middle of a ‘bring me a rock’ exercise” – which may spark legislative scrutiny of Ecology’s role in the water conservancy board system. For more information, contact Sarah Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.