Department of Ecology News Release - July 21, 2010

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Upper Kittitas emergency groundwater rule extended

OLYMPIA – An emergency groundwater management rule in upper Kittitas County has been extended one more time, while the Department of Ecology undertakes permanent rulemaking.

Currently, the emergency rule halts new groundwater withdrawals in the upper county unless the new water use is fully mitigated to offset impacts to senior water users and to protect streamflows.

New groundwater withdrawals were first halted in July 2009 because of concerns about the impact groundwater pumping in upper Kittitas County has on the total water supply for the Yakima River Basin.

Mitigation water is now available for purchase from Suncadia Resort through a water-banking program that allows for development along much of the I-90 corridor in upper Kittitas County. Ecology is processing water-budget-neutral requests for prospective home builders and homeowners.

Approval of water-budget-neutral requests provide to these property owners the mitigation credits they need to legally establish a new groundwater use.

Information about the Upper Kittitas Water Exchange is available online at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/cro/wtrxchng.html (Link updated 05/03/11)

In June, the state filed a proposal to make permanent a rule closing upper Kittitas County to new groundwater allocations unless the withdrawal is backed by an existing senior water right.

A hearing on the permanent rule is scheduled for July 28 in Cle Elum. More information on the permanent rule and extended emergency rule are available online at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/cro/kittitas_wp.html

The current emergency rule extended this week will be in place for 120 days, while the permanent rulemaking is under way. The extended emergency rule expires Nov. 18, 2010.

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Media Contacts:
Joye Redfield-Wilder, 509-575-2610; 509-961-6277, cell; jred461@ecy.wa.gov
Dan Partridge, 360-407-7139; 360-480-5722, cell; dpar461@ecy.wa.gov