508-14 WAC Rule-Making

The Current Rule

The current rule, 508-14 WAC, allows Ecology to issue groundwater permits in parts of Adams, Grant and Franklin counties (see map at right). However, since it is unknown how much water is available, only a limited number of permits have been issued. This lack of knowledge produces regulatory uncertainty. It creates a financial burden for permit holders and applicants since they cannot predict long-term access to water for their projects. The amended rule would resolve the uncertainty by clarifying how much groundwater is available for permitting. This would result in a reliable source of water for Eastern Washington users.

Proposed Changes

Ecology will propose changes to the rule to make it easier to issue water rights in the 508-14 Area . The changes would:

  • Determine the amount of natural and artificially stored groundwater in the 508-14 Area.
  • Clarify the permitting approach for new applicants to obtain a water right to use naturally-stored groundwater.
  • Clarify the permitting approach for new applicants to obtain a permit to use artificially-stored groundwater.
  • Determine whether or not any existing permittees will receive groundwater certificates

Other changes may be identified during the rule development process.

Current Status

Ecology originally filed its intent to change the rule (Preproposal Statement of Inquiry or CR-101) in 2010. The rule change filing was withdrawn so that the agency could evaluate subsequent new scientific information. The rule change will be re-filed once that evaluation is complete.

Economic Benefit

The rule amendment will allow Ecology to issue more water use permits and final certificates. The additional water supplies for agricultural, industrial and municipal water users will encourage economic growth, help create jobs and generate revenue for businesses and local communities.

An economic analysis was conducted for the 15 new permits Ecology issued in spring 2010 for the Quincy Basin. It was calculated that these permits will increase: land values by $83M; income from farm production by $24.22M; and add over 1000 jobs to the local economy.

The economic benefits for the new 508-14 permits will likely be much greater than the 15 Quincy permits. By scaling the analysis done for the 15 Quincy permits to the 117 pending applications for the 508-14 area, a rough approximation of the economic returns can be made:

Issuing 117 new water use permits within the 508-14 area could result in:

  • An $178.4M increase in agricultural land value.
  • An $468M increase in commercial land value
  • An $189M annual increase from increased agricultural production and cycling the money through the economy
  • 2122 new jobs from development of agricultural systems and cycling the money through the economy..
  • 6014 new jobs from commercial development and cycling the money through the economy .

More Information