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Laws and Rules


Apply for a New Water Right

Surface and groundwater in Washington State are a public resource owned by the citizens of Washington.  With the exception of certain small uses of groundwater (as allowed under RCW 90.44.050 except in some closed areas), all prospective water users must apply for and receive a permit from Ecology to use water. Ecology’s Water Resources Program is responsible for approving, conditioning, or denying applications for new water rights and changes to existing water rights.  The program is also responsible for the ongoing management of the state's water right portfolio.

Before you apply, talk to us.

Many applicants have been waiting years to receive a decision on their request.  Additionally, water is no longer available for new users in many areas of the state.  Before you spend money and effort to prepare a water right application, we strongly encourage you to contact the region office for the proposed location for the water use so that we can discuss your water supply needs, processing options and permitting timelines.  Application fees are nonrefundable.

For complex projects, we may recommend that you participate in a more formal consultation with our permitting staff.  To prepare for that meeting, we will ask you to complete a pre-application request form below.  Any applicant may request to meet with our permitting staff before filing an application.

If you contact us by email, please include the following information in your message:

  1. The applicant name and the name of any other authorized representatives
  2. Project location county and county parcel number
  3. Water source – ground or surface water and named source if known and the location of the source
  4. Purpose – irrigation, municipal, group domestic, recreation, etc.
  5. E-mail address
  6. Phone number
  7. The best time to contact you
Northwest Regional Office - Bellevue  WA
Counties: Island, King, Kitsap, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom
Office: 425-649-7020
  Central Regional Office - Union Gap  WA
Counties: Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, and Yakima
Office: 509-575-2597
Southwest Regional Office - Lacey  WA
Counties: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston and Wahkiakum
Office: 360-407-6859
  Eastern Regional Office - Spokane  WA
Counties: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman
Office: 509-329-3541

 Pre-application Consultation

If you wish to meet with our permitting staff to discuss your project, or we have recommended that you do so, please follow the steps below:

Step 1. Complete and submit the pre-application form

  1. Download and complete the Pre-Application Consultation Form. Do your best to complete all sections of the form and we will discuss any incomplete sections at the pre-application consultation meeting.
  2. E-mail the completed form to If you cannot e-mail to us, mail the completed form to the appropriate regional office.
  3. Wait for Ecology to contact you to schedule a pre-application meeting or phone call if you can't travel to a regional office.  Our goal is to contact you within 2-3 business days.  At that time, Ecology will schedule an appointment for your consultation

Step 2. Prepare for and attend the pre-application consultation meeting or phone call

  1. Be prepared to discuss the proposal in detail and ask any questions you have about the water right application process.  The purpose of the meeting is for us to learn more about your proposed project and to provide you with information about:
  1. You may bring any professional staff (e.g., engineers, hydrogeologists or attorneys) whom you feel are necessary to address technical questions which Ecology staff may have.

Step 3. After the pre-application conference, decide what your best option is to apply for the water you need

  1. Evaluate whether a water right permit is your best option for meeting your water supply needs.
  2. Make sure you understand which water application process is best suited to the timeline of your project.
  3. Submit the appropriate application. Ecology requires a minimum non-refundable $50.00 fee for most applications.  To estimate the fee required visit our Fee Estimator web page.