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Competing interests vie for legislative action
Gov. Gary Locke's official declaration of drought this week only reconfirms that water is a critical issue, not just to arid Eastern Washington but also to the Puget Sound region.
Beyond the drought declaration, Locke is determined to tackle the issue much more aggressively. He has put the Legislature on notice: Lawmakers are not going home, the governor has told them, until they pass significant reforms to Washington's water law.
That's for starters. Locke has in mind still more ambitious water-law reforms for the next two years. The issues his legislation will tackle, though, are complex and contentious. Directly or indirectly, proposed reforms will affect powerful interests and virtually every citizen in the state.
Which is why major water legislation is difficult, if not impossible, to pass. Attempts to reach consensus and to pass meaningful legislation have come to naught during the past dozen years. …