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Apply for a Permit to Store Water

Before you apply, talk to us.

Applying for a water right is one thing, getting one is another. Statewide, there is lots of competition for water. Water allocation decisions are complex and often controversial. In many areas of the state, water is not physically or legally available for new water rights. There already are thousands of pending water right applications and many applicants have been waiting 10 or more years for a decision.

Before you spend money and effort to prepare a water right application, we strongly encourage you to engage in pre-application consultation with our staff. We want to understand your water supply needs. We want to give you our perspective on risks, opportunities and alternatives.

Application fees are nonrefundable. We would rather you didn't spend this money if the likelihood of getting a water right is low. Where water is still available, we would like to offer recommendations for making your proposal successful. That may require you to provide certain information, analyses and studies, and propose mitigation.

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) asks anyone who needs a water right (new, change, or transfer) to submit the pre-application consultation form and meet with us to review your water supply needs and project proposal.  Do your best to complete all sections of the form and we will discuss any incomplete sections at the pre-application consultation meeting.

To initiate a pre-application consultation, do the following:

Step 1. Complete and submit the pre-application form.

  1. Download 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. Email the completed form to  If you don't have access to email,  mail the 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 48 hours. In most cases, a meeting will be held within 10 business days following the submission of the pre-application consultation form.

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:
  2. 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. 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.