Issue Water Right Decisions

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

To ensure that Ecology meets and/or exceeds the goal established by the State Legislature for water right decisions, Ecology has prioritized water rights processing.  As a result, Ecology staff have needed to reprioritize and temporarily defer some work in other water rights categories including permit management, plan review, seasonal changes, enforcement, and technical assistance.  Ecology is engaged in a process to continue to improve efficiencies in water rights processing and permit management.

Fiscal Year 2014

Process Pending Water Right Applications

The final 2013-15 operating budget included a directive by the legislature that requires the WRP to issue 500 or more water right decisions during fiscal year 2014 (first year) or be subject to a cut of $500K at the start of fiscal year 15 (second year) of the biennium.

"$14,000,000 of the general fund--state appropriation for fiscal year 2014 and $14,000,000 of the general fund--state appropriation for fiscal year 2015 are for activities within the water resources program. Of the amounts provided in (a) of this subsection, $500,000 of the general fund--state appropriation for fiscal year 2015 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 2014, and if the department of ecology does not issue at least five hundred water right decisions in fiscal year 2014 the amount provided in this subsection shall lapse and remain unexpended. The department of ecology shall submit a report to the office of financial management and the state treasurer by June 30, 2014, that documents whether five hundred water right decisions were issued in fiscal year 2014. For the purposes of this subsection, applications that are voluntarily withdrawn by an applicant do not count towards the five hundred water right decision requirement. For the purposes of water budget-neutral requests under chapter 173-539A WAC, multiple domestic connections authorized within a single water budget-neutral decision are considered one decision for the purposes of this subsection."

500 Water Right Decisions in Fiscal Year 2014 - Letter to OFM  July 21, 2014

The following two tables are provided to track the number of applications that have been received and the decisions made by quarter in fiscal year 2014.  The first quarter entry will be provided mid-October.  The water right decision totals below do not include withdrawn applications.

Water Right Applications Received


Water Right Decisions Made

Month Year Change Applications New Applications Total Month Year Change Applications New Applications Total
2013 2013
July, August, September 48 44 92 July, August, September 90 185 275
October, November, December 90 40 130 October, November, December 57 111 168
2014 2014
January, February March 57 46 103 January, February March 62 61 123
April, May, June 98 41 139 April, May, June 70 77 147


293 171 464


279 434 713

Fiscal Year 2013

Fiscal Year 2012

In fiscal year 2012, Water Resources Program staff made 689 water rights decisions (per the amended budget proviso that does not allow the counting of voluntary withdrawals), and the program has also worked on 171 applications that were voluntarily withdrawn by the applicant, resulting in a total of 860 water right applications being taken out of the pending application line in this fiscal year.  During that same time period Ecology received 400 applications.