Galbraith v. Superior Court
In Galbraith v. Superior Court, 59 Wash. 621, 629, 110 P. 429 (1910), the court discussed this principle in the context of beneficial use of water.
The court noted that article I, section 16, provides for eminent domain for certain private purposes, including ditches for agricultural purposes.
Although the provision in terms seems to give the power to take for private use, it was evidently adopted upon the theory that the public would be sufficiently benefited by the taking for such a purpose to warrant the taking; that is, though it be seemingly called a private use by these words of the constitution, it is also in effect a public use in view of the necessities of a state like ours having vast areas of arid land. 59 Wash. at 629.
The court explained that the reclamation through irrigation of one small field by an individual promotes the development and adds to the taxable wealth of the state as well as reclamation by irrigation of large areas. Id. at 632.
The benefit to the public which supports the exercise of the power of eminent domain for purposes of this character, is not public service, but is the development of the resources of the state, and the increase of its wealth generally, by which its citizens incidentally reap a benefit.
Whether such development and increased wealth comes from the effort of a single individual, or the united efforts of many, in our opinion does not change the principal upon which this right of eminent domain rests. Id. at 631.