Questions and Answers - Water Budget Neutral (WBN) Requests

Securing water for new projects under the Upper Kittitas Groundwater Rule

The Upper Kittitas Groundwater Rule (effective January 2011) requires that all new groundwater uses in Upper Kittitas County are mitigated, to protect area streams, aquifers and existing water rights. “Mitigated” here refers to coverage (or protection) under a senior water right (pre-May 10, 1905), with the benefit that a new withdrawal is “neutralized” by water from an existing right being left in the stream.

You can obtain mitigation under a senior water right in two ways: through a water bank, or on your own. In addition, you will need a Water Budget Neutral (WBN) determination from Ecology. A WBN determination certifies that the amount of water you are proposing to use is adequately offset by the amount of the senior water right.

Similar requirements may soon be in effect for all of Kittitas County. Note: if you are using an existing water purveyor, you do not need to obtain mitigation or a WBN determination.

For additional information on water availability in the Upper Yakima Watershed, see the Focus on Water Availability: Upper Yakima Watershed, WRIA 39. For more information on the Upper Kittitas Groundwater Rule, see Frequently Asked Questions: Upper Kittitas Ground Water Rule

This web page provides answers to basic questions about securing a Water Budget Neutral determination.

What is “Water Budget Neutral?” Answer...

This is a withdrawal of water whose impact to area streams is offset by water from existing water rights being left in-stream. The consumptive use (amount of water not returned to rivers and streams) does not exceed the amount of water of these existing water rights. These existing rights can be purchased on your own or through water banks. Banked water is water put into the state trust water rights program as an “instream flow water right” (water left in the stream for the benefit of the stream and all the life that depends on adequate stream flows).

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How do I get a Water Budget Neutral (WBN) request started? Answer...

A Request for Determination of Water Budget Neutrality form is available on any one of the water bank web sites linked from the Yakima River Basin Water Exchanges web site In order to plan ahead, you may wish to review the types of water right changes and transfers that can quickly gain acceptance of the Water Transfer Working Group and approval from the state.

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What information do I need to complete the WBN request? Answer...

The following information is important for Ecology to be able to process your application for water budget neutral uses:

  1. Is the request for surface water or groundwater?
  2. Applicant name, address, and contact (e.g. water bank representative).
  3. What is the intent/purpose of the project?
    1. Proposed uses (for example, one home and lawn irrigation).
    2. Quantity of water for each use (on-line calculators are found on the web sites for specific water banks).
    3. Note: Ecology will assign an application number and priority date.
  1. Point of diversion or withdrawal (surface water OR groundwater):
    1. If surface water, what is the source?
    2. If groundwater, do you have a well? If so, what is the Ecology Well ID?
    3. Legal description (parcel; quarter of Section, Township, Range, County).
  1. Water System Information (as applicable):
    1. Number of connections, group use information.
    2. On-site septic requires a covenant restricting trees/shrubs on the drainfield
    3. Irrigation (number of acres or sq ft).
  1. Mitigation (MUST identify an existing trust water right or pending application):
    1. Provide the Trust Water Right mitigation agreement; or
    2. Provide the proposed Trust Water Right; and for both options
    3. Provide the quantity of the Trust Water Right to be acquired for mitigation.
  1. Place of use (legal description where water will be used)
  1. Signatures certifying the information provided in the application:
    1. Applicant or authorized representative
    2. Land owner

Attachments: The following attachments must be provided with the request:

Send the completed form to: Department of Ecology, Water Resources Program, Central Regional Office, 15 W. Yakima Ave, Suite 200, Yakima, WA 98902-3452.

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How will I know if need to submit a permit application? Answer...

Ecology performs a “group use” review to determine whether or not the proposal may require a water right permit. If Ecology determines a water right permit is required (14 or more connections in most cases), then we would notify you.

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What else will Ecology consider while evaluating my WBN request? Answer...

After we receive your application, Ecology will review the following:

Mitigation information:


Presence of ESA-listed fish:

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What happens to my WBN request after Ecology completes its review? Answer...

The information from your WBN request is submitted in a proposal (prepared by you or your representative, or Ecology) to the Yakima Water Transfer Working Group (WTWG). This team of agencies and water users meets monthly to review proposed water right transfers in the Yakima basin. The WTWG process may help guide you to the types of water right changes and transfers that can quickly gain approval from the state. The proposal form is found on the Water Transfer Working Group web page.

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How can I learn the status of my WBN request? Answer...

You can find out if your request is pending the WTWG review at: Water Transfer Working Group. Accepted WBNs are found at: Water Budget Neutral (WBN) Determinations and Draft ROEs for Upper Kittitas County.

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Where can I learn about available water banks for purchasing mitigation water? Answer...

The Washington Water Banks web site provides information on water banks in Upper Kittitas, Lower Kittitas, Central Yakima and Lower Yakima areas. These water banks offer mitigation certificates for sale. Suitability maps and contact information are also provided at that web site, so you can find out if your location is within an area served by a water bank. Ecology cannot recommend any specific water bank.

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How do I obtain mitigation on my own? Answer...

You may change and transfer the use of an existing water right to a new property if it pre-dates May 10, 1905. This would be done through an application process with Ecology or a Water Conservancy Board.

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Where can I find information related to the performance of specific water banks? Answer...

The web page, Tracking Washington Water Banks provides information on water rights held in Ecology’s Trust Water Right Program as instream flow rights for new water users to mitigate for their consumptive water use. The links on that web site provide accounting information for these water banks for specific WBNs.

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