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Laws and Rules


Voluntarily Relinquish or Abandon a Water Right Certificate or Claim

A person may voluntarily relinquish their water right and should do so if the water use has diminished or completely stopped for five or more successive years.  Relinquishment can also occur when the Department of Ecology notifies a water right holder (through an administrative order) that evidence shows the water right has not been put to full use.  The order will state that all or a portion of a water right has been relinquished unless sufficient cause for not using the water is shown either to the Department of Ecology or through an appeal to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.  If sufficient cause is not shown, the water right will be relinquished.  It is the responsibility of the water right holder to maintain the water right in good standing.

According to the law (RCW 90.14.140), there are several categories of reasons that may serve as “sufficient causes” to explain why water has not been used: