Water Resources Program Activities for 2012-13

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

The 2011-13 Operating Budget (Second Engrossed Substitute House Bill (2ESHB) 1087  Section 963), and the 2012 supplemental budget, included several budget provisos related to the work and priorities of the Water Resources Program.  Below includes a brief description of various activities and priorities of the Water Resources Program for the coming year.

Work in Progress - July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013

Review Water Rights Application Procedures - LEAN

Ecology continues to improve efficiencies in water rights processing and permit management during the coming fiscal year.  The Water Resources Program is reviewing our existing water right application processes, with the intention of creating a streamlined process that is more efficient, takes less time, and adds value for the customer.  In order to accomplish this efficiency work, the Water Resources Program has utilized the “Lean” process.  Lean has helped companies like Toyota, Boeing, Group Health, and Virginia Mason Hospital to become more efficient, and the application of Lean in the government sector is being used in Washington and several other states with good success.

The Legislature has asked Ecology to report on reforms implemented and efficiencies achieved as demonstrated through enhanced permit processing to the appropriate committees of the Legislature on October 1, 2012.  Ecology also prepared a similar report earlier this year documenting process improvement and Lean event work.

Process Pending Water Right Applications

$1,075,000 of the general fund (state appropriation for fiscal year 2013) is provided solely for processing the pending water rights permit applications by the Water Resources Program.

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.  Below are links to a recent report Ecology issued regarding progress to reduce the number of water right applications pending with Ecology, information related to a priority processing activity in the Yakima Basin, and information on tracking water right decisions this fiscal year:

Consult with Stakeholders

The Legislature also included a budget proviso that requires Ecology to consult with key stakeholders on statutory barriers to efficient water rights processing and effective water management, including identification of obsolete, confusing, or conflicting statutory provisions.  Ecology is required to submit a report that includes stakeholder recommendations to the appropriate committees of the legislature by October 1, 2012.  Ecology also prepared a similar report earlier this year, and the link to that report is included below:

Skagit Subbasin Water Solutions - Working toward solutions in the Carpenter-Fisher and Nookachamps Subbasins

In April 2012, the Legislature approved SB 5127 with budget proviso language reflecting the desire to balance instream and out-of-stream benefits in the Skagit Basin, much like we have been doing with our successful Office of Columbia River Program in eastern Washington.  We have attached a link below to show the status of our work in seeking solution in the Skagit: 

Yakima River Basin

The Yakima Basin Integrated Water Management Plan, built on cooperation and collaboration among water users, lays the groundwork for stable water supplies decades into the future.  The alternative to moving the plan forward is contentious and costly legal battles over water that will leave many losers among water users in the basin.  Ecology is proposing legislation that would advance comprehensive policy and solutions for Yakima Basin water resources.

Yakima River Basin Water Exchanges - Includes Upper Kittitas, Lower Kittitas, Central Yakima and Lower Yakima Basins

A "Water Exchange" is a tool for providing the mechanism to make water available through mitigation.  Water banking is a way to use the market to make water available for new uses, such as increasing stream flows and providing water for development.  Although banking approaches may differ, the common goal is to move water to where it is needed most.  There are seven water banks in the Upper Kittitas Water Exchange five water banks in the Lower Kittitas Water Exchange, and one water bank in the Central and Lower Yakima Water Exchange that you can use to find water for your needs. 

Mitigation that effectively offsets the impact to the Yakima River of consumptively using groundwater ensures that the new groundwater user has the ability to continue his or her use of water even if all water rights after May 10, 1905 are completely curtailed.  Although mitigation is not required by a rule like the Upper Kittitas Groundwater Rule, water right permits authorizing new uses of groundwater have not been approved by Ecology, unless the impacts were mitigated, since the early 1990s.

Dungeness Water Management Rule

On November 16, 2012 Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant signed a new water management rule for the Dungeness watershed that secures water supplies for current and future uses in the Sequim area for the benefit of people, community development, agriculture and fish.  The rule went into effect January 02, 2013.

Certified Water Right Examiners Program

The proposed statewide rule creating the Certified Water Right Examiners Program is the result of 2010 legislation that authorizes the use of contractors to complete the final proof examination to qualify water users for water right certificates.  Water users will benefit from this program because water right permits and change authorizations can be certified sooner.

Office of Columbia River

Each year, the Office of Columbia River (OCR) has funded projects consistent with our legislative mandate to "aggressively pursue development of water supplies to benefit both instream and out-of-stream water uses."  OCR has developed separate grant processes for different types of water supply projects, including Modification of Existing Storage, New Large Storage, Conservation, and Acquisition.  Below we have included a funding flowchart that briefly describes the OCR projects and funding packages. 

The above description is a synopsis of only a few of the many activities and priorities that Ecology is embarking upon during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.  We will continue to update this webpage as new information becomes available. 

Archive - fiscal year budget tracking for 2012