Upper Kittitas Groundwater Rule - Questions and Answers
Here are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding the Upper Kittitas Ground Water Rule.
How did the rule get started? Upper Kittitas Ground Water Rule - Archive - September 10, 2007 to December 21, 2010
Ecology is using water banking to make water available for new uses. Mitigation being sold by the water banks offsets the impacts of new uses on the Yakima River system. The mitigation also supports the new users’ ability to continue using water even if all water rights with priority dates after May 10, 1905 are completely shut off.
Although most of the banking activity is taking place in Upper Kittitas County due to the Groundwater Rule, new permitted uses in the Lower Yakima basin also must be mitigated. Most of the Yakima water banks also serve the lower Yakima Basin.
The Department of Ecology adopted a rule for managing ground water resources in upper Kittitas County. The rule was adopted on December 22, 2010 and became effective January 22, 2011.
Ecology filed a proposed rule for the Upper Kittitas Ground Water Rule, Chapter 173-539A WAC on June 22, 2010. The proposed ground water rule was published in the Washington State Register on July 7, 2010. A public hearing was held in Cle Elum on July 28, 2010 and comments on the rule proposal were accepted through August 25, 2010.
Chapter 173-539A WAC withdraws from appropriation all groundwater in Upper Kittitas County with the exception of uses for structures for which a building permit have been granted and vested prior to July 16, 2009 and uses which are determined to be water budget neutral. The rule establishes a pathway for developers, contractors, and/or individuals to construct water budget neutral projects by identifying water rights that can be placed into the trust water right program to offset their consumptive use of groundwater.
The rule also addresses:
Ecology has issued a Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) under the State Environmental Policy Act, a Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS), and a final cost-benefit and least burdensome analyses for this rule making.
Upper Kittitas Ground Water Rule (Chapter 173-539A WAC) current rule activity page includes links to:
The U.S. Geological Survey and Ecology signed an agreement November 29, 2010 to study groundwater within the bedrock aquifers in Upper Kittitas County. The study is expected to require two to three years to complete. See the information in the right column.
September 10, 2007 to December 21, 2010
Ecology received a petition in September 2007 from water right holders in Kittitas County seeking a temporary moratorium on new groundwater wells in Kittitas County. The petitioners are members of a group called Aqua Permanente who are concerned that rapid rural residential growth will impair senior water rights and stream flows in the Kittitas and Yakima valleys.
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