On December 4, 1969, the public won a significant victory in the Supreme Court of Washington. The court ordered defendants who had filled their lands, which are seasonally inundated by the waters of Lake Chelan, to remove the fill because it obstructed the rights of plaintiffs and the public to swim, boat, fish, bathe, recreate, and navigate in the waters of the lake. This principle applies to all navigable waters of the state The sweeping character of the decision is demonstrated by the narrow ground on which three of the judges dissented, in part, to Judge Mathew W. Hill's majority opinion. The dissenters would have allowed the fill to remain, because it was on land above what had been the natural level of Lake Chelan before a hydroelectric project initiated in 1927 caused the lake surface to fluctuate seasonally.
Charles E. Corker,
Thou Shalt Not Fill Public Waters Without Public Permission—Washington's Lake Chelan Decision,
45 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol45/iss1/7