There is a solution for the landowners in Skagit County for potable water and obtaining a building permit, while protecting the in stream flow rules.
Skagit County has issued the first water availability and building permit with rainwater collection as the single source of water for a single family residence. The Department of Ecology has been promoting rainwater harvesting since 2009 statewide. It is up to each county to decide whether potable usage is allowed. Whatcom, King, Jefferson, Island, and San Juan Island counties have been allowing rainwater collection for some time now with great success. The Department of Ecology has encouraged Skagit County to promote the use of RWC with little support from the Health Department.
Rather than continuing the “water war” in the valley, the Building and Health Departments should be promoting rainwater collection. Let the people know that there is a viable solution, so they can build their homes. Offer real case studies from other counties on the quality, availability, and affordable costs of a RWC system. Education about alternative water sources is available from the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) and myself, president of RainBank Rainwater Systems. There are well over 1,000 potable rainwater collection systems in the state providing clean, safe, and reliable water solutions, at costs similar to well-drilling.
Rainwater collection is beneficial to the environment, it mitigates stormwater runoff. Further benefit is found by protecting and replenishing our aquifers and supporting in stream flow rates.