Water Resources Program Activities for the 2015-17 Biennium
This page is being maintained as an archive of past
information and will not be updated.
Fiscal Year 2016
The WRP and OCR implement many activities, always with an eye towards the
operating and capital budgets provided by the legislature. A snapshot of activities for Fiscal Year 2016 includes:
Drought: 2015 brought on one of Washington State’s
worst droughts. On March 21, 2016 Ecology released the
2015 Drought Response Summary Report. We continue to
monitor conditions and report our findings.
Managing water rights: The program
continues to issue water right decisions, once again exceeding
our goal to issue 500 decisions each fiscal
year. In FY 2014-2015, we made 514 decisions and received
497 new and change applications.
Rural water strategy: Work is under way to
find rural domestic water solutions while protecting stream
flows and instream resources.
Dam safety: In 2015, inspections are
scheduled for “high hazard” and “significant hazard” dams
situated above populated areas. Inspections of the
construction work on new dams is also being conducted on an
Compliance with water laws and rules:
Focusing our current work on responding to the drought and
improving compliance, we are actively regulating junior water
right holders to protect flows in rivers/streams.
- Data and information management of water records:
The redeveloped Water Rights Tracking System will be implemented by
December 2015. Mapping of all water rights statewide is
on-going, currently at 64% mapped. Work is also beginning on a
second electronic well report form.
Well-drilling oversight and management:
Work is ongoing in licensing well drillers, regulating and
inspecting well construction and decommissioning, and improving
the well log database.
- Supporting water use efficiency: Providing
technical assistance, engineering, on-site assessments and
financial assistance to water users to achieve more efficient
use of water.
Clarifying water rights (adjudication):
Focus is on completing the Yakima River Basin surface water
More information is available for some current and ongoing WRP activities:
Lake Tapps water supply project: Lake Tapps in Pierce County
is a future municipal water supply; Cascade Water Alliance made
the largest trust water donation in our state’s history. (Jan.
2015). Short-term water right permit allows refilling of
the lake for recreational use (summer 2015)
Office of Columbia River: Funding projects consistent with
our legislative mandate to "aggressively pursue development of
water supplies to benefit both instream and out-of-stream water
Skagit River Basin water solutions: Ecology continues to
work with local partners to address current and future water
Spokane River instream flow rule: Adopted January 2015 to
protect instream resources from future withdrawals and provide a
regulatory threshold to determine when there is water for new
uses. This rule is now being implemented.
Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan
(YBIP): Comprehensive plan that lays the groundwork for stable
water supplies decades into the future.
- Manastash Creek pressurized pipeline
completed in 2014, conserving over 1,200
acre-feet annually from irrigation use.
The conserved water increased stream flows to
benefit fish. In 2015, the new infrastructure
allowed the Kittitas Reclamation District to
deliver additional water to help fish by
relieving drought conditions on the creek.
This was the first construction project
completed under YBIP.
Yakima River Basin Water Exchanges: Includes Upper and Lower
Kittitas, and Central and Lower Yakima basins. Describes the use
of water exchanges, and tracks mitigation banks’ performance and
Water Budget Neutral decisions.
Issue Water Right Decisions
The Legislature has requested that Ecology maintain an ongoing accounting of
water right applications received and acted on and to post that information to
Ecology’s Internet site. Ecology is required to process
500 decisions this year. From section 302 of the
2015-17 Operating Budget, -" $500,000 of the general fund—state
appropriation for fiscal year 2017 is provided solely for processing water right
permit applications only if the department of ecology issues at least five
hundred water right decisions in fiscal year 2016."
Tracking decisions - Fiscal year 2016 tracking the number of
applications that have been received and the decisions made, by
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