Washington Supreme Court Hears WSU Golf Course Case

May 24, 2013

Scotty Cornelius

The Supreme Court of Washington Thursday heard oral arguments in a case that could change how cities, towns and universities manage water. Northwest conservation groups are suing Washington State University. They say it’s draining the region’s aquifer.

It all started on a golf course on Washington’s hilly Palouse. Pullman homeowner Scotty Cornelius says Washington State University’s golf course is improperly draining the aquifer he relies on for water. The amount of water in the aquifer has been dropping by about one foot per year.

Now, the case has moved to Olympia, where Cornelius’ attorney is arguing that the state Department of Ecology applied a water law improperly to the university -- and by extension to the golf course.

Cornelius says this will drain the Palouse’s aquifer that much faster.

State attorneys say – if the court sides with Cornelius – cities, towns and universities could lose water they’ve set aside for development. That means economic growth could slow or stop in some places.

A decision is expected later this year.

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