Crown West Realty, LLC vs. Washington Department of Ecology and Pollution Control Hearings Board
Crown West is a development company that owns the Spokane Industrial Park, a former Navy supply depot that held rights to groundwater in continuity with the Spokane River. Crown attempted to use these water rights in a scheme to sell mitigation water in areas along the Columbia River, far downstream from Spokane. The water rights in question had not been used for decades. Crown attempted to protect them from relinquishment by misuse of the municipal water laws. Ecology denied Crown’s application. After the PCHB agreed with Ecology, Crown appealed to the courts. CELP filed an amicus brief at the Court of Appeals, explaining the context around municipal water rights and the consequences of allowing such improper use. On February 26, 2019, the Court affirmed the PCHB, holding that Crown West’s scheme was improper because the water rights in question did not qualify as municipal rights.