Sen. Phil Fortunato cast his vote to approve a legislative fix for the flawed 2016 Hirst decision and approved a capital budget late Thursday evening.
Senate Bill 6091 was approved in the Senate by a vote of 35 to 15 and in the House by 66 to 30.
“I have some concerns about the bill, but our community fares well under the proposal,” said Fortunato, R-Auburn. “People will be charged a bit more to drill a well, but the solution really puts us back to the status quo, allowing rural residents to get water. It also includes an exemption for livestock. They imposed some new limits on water usage in areas without a way to actually measure it, but don’t tell anybody.”
The legislation authorizes new wells with some new conditions depending on the watershed and clarifies the permitting authority to provide greater certainty for applicants. In typical government fashion, the bill also creates local planning committees that would determine water-related projects to be funded by the Legislature and other regulations, which Fortunato opposed.
Fortunato offered several amendments to protect property owners and to remove a low-impact development provision that will come back to haunt the state in a few years.
“People will be shocked at how LID requirements will drive up housing costs,” he said. “I had a constituent who was required to put in a pervious driveway on his one-acre parcel that cost over $50,000.”
Fortunato also garnered $1.5 million for water and sewer projects in Carbonado via the capital budget.