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Water Smart Washington - Washington State Water Management Reform

Implementing the Water Resources Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012

When the 2011 Legislature passed the Operating Budget (Second Engrossed Substitute House Bill (2ESHB) 1087), they gave the Water Resources Program several new assignments and directives:

  • Review Water Rights Application Procedures
  • Issue 500 Water Right Decisions
  • Consult with Stakeholders
  • Increase Dam Safety and Inspection Fees

Progress on these assignments and directives are tracked here

By the Numbers – How Water Supports Washington Jobs

Perhaps nothing is as critical in shaping the quality of life in Washington state than securing the future of our water resources.  In one way or another, everything we value depends on access to clean water.

Water Smart Washington Proposed Legislation - Archive

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) asked the 2011 Legislature for authority to reform and improve the way water resources are managed in Washington state for the benefit of current and future water users and the natural environment.  The bill and associated background information has been archived.

This page is being maintained as an archive of past information and will not be updated.

The Washington Department of Ecology continues to work to reform its water management practices to meet increasing demands for water in a time of limited new water supplies.

Ecology put its recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Water Resources Program in a report to the Legislature and the Governor: “Water Resources Program Functions and Funding Structure-Recommendations for a Sustainable and Efficient Program.”

The Water Resources Program’s ongoing mission is to work with Washington communities in support of sustainable water resources management to meet the present and future water needs of people and the natural environment.  Efforts to fulfill the mission have been handicapped in recent years by inconsistent funding resulting from dependence on the State General Fund and the need to update 19th century-based water laws which are inadequate to meet 21st Century challenges.  The report makes recommendations to the Legislature for improving the funding of water resources management and making the Water Resources Program more efficient in the delivery of ten basic services.

2010 Report to the Legislature and Governor: Water Resources Program Functions and Funding Structure

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) was directed by the Washington State Legislature to review current water resource functions and funding structures, and to report to the Legislature and the Governor by September 1, 2010, on improvements to make the program more self-sustaining and efficient. Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill (E2SSB) 6267, Sec. 2 states:

Sufficient resources to support the department of ecology's water resource program are essential for effective and sustainable water management that provides certainty to processed applications. The department of ecology shall review current water resource functions and fee structures, and report to the legislature and the governor by September 1, 2010, on improvements to make the program more self-sustaining and efficient.

The 6267 Report describes Ecology’s Water Resources Program activities, as well as current funding levels and associated funding structures.  The report identifies a number of efficiency improvements and makes specific recommendations for making the program more self–sustaining and less dependent upon State General Fund dollars.

The report:

Resource materials