One Woman's Tale of Disappointment and Loss in Skagit County

Citizens in many places of Washington State are under attack from elected officials and unelected bureaucrats in Olympia.  Often, these individuals, who are supposed to be servants of the people, are instead servants of special interests, especially the environmental NGO's and the tribes who contribute generously to campaign coffers and get a hefty return on investment with preferencial treatment, advantageous legislation and administrative regulations, and favorable court rulings.   This favorable treatment often results in significant financial harm and shattered dreams to the people who live outside the urban areas in and around metropolitan Seattle. 

So it is in Skagit County where a crippling In-stream Flow Rule has plagued rural residents since its inception in 2001, causing property values to plunge and creating a situation where many can not sell or refinance their homes.  Nor they can develop the land they own.  The following is one woman's tale of disappointment and loss, courtesy of the politicians and bureaucrats in Olympia.     


My move to Skagit Valley

    I've been visiting the Skagit Valley since 2002.

   First coming up here, I was welcomed with lots of beautiful surroundings

and wonderful people. This land-trees-water-Mts, all such a lush canvas with

many shades of green & blue. Every time it came to going for a ride, it

seems that the Skagit River was always calling. So, after several stays, in

several areas, over several years, it was the Birdsview area that was

drawing the attention. The snow, Baker Lake, Skagit River, the Eagles, the

Elk, the people that live & work here.

   So, we chose to buy 2 lots in the Forest Park Estates. This new

subdivision consisted of 1 acre lots. All paved roads with street lights.

All underground utilities, some had wells & others didn't. No houses have

been built yet - what an opportunity! My husband, being a building

contractor, chose the lots we wanted & within months had the wells permitted

by Skagit county, installed & began planning to build & move. Bought these

lots in April 2012 & began pulling permits immediately & started prepping

land & began building in Jan 2013. The house passed final inspection the

Night Before Christmas, 2013. We were ready to build on oufrom the begging r

other lot!

    But! That's when the word got out in the Valley, of this water rights

issue being enforced. I say being enforced, because after reading about

this, & attending a few CAPR meetings, this has been going on here for 20

years now!  CAPR is Citizens Alliance for Property Rights. They have been

assisting & fighting this fight with us.  So - this was never mentioned to

us when we were looking into moving to this area. Never mentioned within the

real estate transaction i.e.: disclosure laws? -  Nothing was ever mentioned

by Skagit County! I'm told this was not an issue when we purchased these

properties & I say no, this has been in the courts for 20 years now! This

literally blindsided us in the greatest way! Who steps up & takes

responsibility for the fact that this was intentional/deliberate, that this

water rights issue was NEVER mentioned. There are 500 houses in Skagit

Valley in the same predicament I'm in & with countless building lots. WHO is

going to be held accountable for this debacle? Washington State is a failure

in so many levels!

    We not only moved here for personal reasons, but moved here to continue

what we do, Build homes. That's why we bought 2 lots. Now here we are. Moved

to a new area where we cannot conduct our business that we have been doing

for over 25 years.

   Figured out that within 18 months of moving here to Skagit County, we

have lost 400,000, by being prevented to work,  due to this Water Rights


So here it is:  If you get your water thru a PUD, you have no problem. If

your well was drilled before 2001, you have no problem. But, If your well

was drilled after 2001, you have a BIG problem. YOU HAVE NO WATER RIGHTS ON

YOUR OWN PROPERTY!! You cannot build - you cannot sell your house, because

you have no water rights. Well I take that back. You can sell, but lose 75%

of your investment! This ruling is effecting the economy here.

Real Estate agents can't sell properties now.

Builders can't build.

Well Drillers can't drill.

Lumber yards can't sell lumber for building.

All subcontractors are hurting.

Local businesses have taken a hit.

Big $$$ being lost here.

   So immediately after moving here, the fight for water rights have been

just that - A FIGHT! Where else can you by property, Property that was

intended for development.

Within 1 year, you are told there's no more building permits being issued &

your property has no water rights? Even though we just installed a well that

was approved by the county? Where can you get the rug ripped right from

under your feet? It's right here in Washington State folks - that's where.

    My husband fought this fight the first year we lived here. It consumed

him. Our rights were taken away! He was a builder that was told he could not

build. He went to testify in Olympia. After returning, he realized our

representatives could NOT CARE LESS!! 3 months later he passed away from


   So, here I am, Living in an area that was subdivided for development, but

this is the only house that stands here & I can cannot sell it if I wanted

to. People want to build here, but that can not.  So, now that time has gone

by, property values plummeted. My lot with a well that should be worth over

75,000 is assessed by Skagit County for 13,000. I'm paying taxes on that

13,000, but if it can't be built on, it's worthless - so why are we even

being asked to pay taxes? Why are we paying taxes - maybe that's what they

want to happen - everyone walk away? No one attends to their lots any

longer, why bother??

   So, welcome to Skagit Valley. A place that has standing water in the

fields. A place where Eagles & Swans come to migrate because of the water &

fish here.

Absolutely Beautiful!! But, Not a place where you can build on your own

property if your well was drilled after 2001! These rights have been taken

away from us by our own government!! Yes folks - Washington State is in

"America". But when your rights have been ripped away from you, when you

have 50%+ of your net worth stolen from you by your own government, it

doesn't feel like America.

   Washington State, does not appear to care about & has done absolutely

NOTHING in the course of almost 3 years now, here in Skagit Valley,

addressing this issue. Our local representatives have supported our fight,

but in Olympia, our other representatives have turned this into another

political game board & we have no say in how we play.  All of our lives have

been turned upside down here. Our Olympia representatives have turned their

back on us! No, we are not stupid people/country folk, who don't care or

know what we are doing, & I don't much care for being treated like this by

the state of Washington. This is insulting on so many levels & the State of

Washington needs be held accountable for the debacle THEY have created.

    So check out CAPR & the reasons why we are here. Check out why we are

being prevented from removing water from the ground. It's really based on

bad science presented by the DOE, The Department Of Ecology & our local

Indian tribes. They both have this power - to stop homeowners from pulling

water out of their own ground, because our representatives are ALLOWING them

to do just that.

   Well this is a case in Skagit County - your county WILL be next.  If it's

not the water rights issue - it will be about your septic tank. Or, how

about paying extra for your PUD water because of the infrastructure of

America's water lines are crumbling! 


I encourage people to attend July 7 meeting in Concrete at the Middle School

Commons at 6:00pm. Let's see if our representatives show up, so we can ask

them" what the hell is going on here?" & hear what their explanation is.

It is election time people. Let's get some people voted in that cares about

" We The People"!

Thank You for taking the time to read this! Hope to see you at this


JoAnn Walker


July 7, 2016