Laws and Rules
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.
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:
Northwest Regional Office - Bellevue WA
Counties: Island, King, Kitsap, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom
Central Regional Office - Union Gap WA
Counties: Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, and Yakima
Southwest Regional Office - Lacey WA
Counties: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston and Wahkiakum
Eastern Regional Office - Spokane WA
Counties: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman
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
Step 2. Prepare for and attend the pre-application consultation meeting or phone call
Step 3. After the pre-application conference, decide what your best option is to apply for the water you need
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.htm