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FAQ: Water Right and Water Storage Fees

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The 2005 Legislature amended RCW 90.03.470 and added a new section to RCW 90.14, changing the fee structure for new water-right applications, water-storage applications, water-right change applications, and inspection of water storage facilities.  This was the first change to the fee structure since 1951. In the 2011 Operating Budget, E2SHB 1087, the Legislature authorized a fee increase for inspection of water storage facilities to better reflect the actual cost of providing the service.

Q: What are the current fees?
A:
Current fees include:

Q: Are there any fee exemptions?
A: There a number of fee exemptions. Ecology requires no fees for:

Q: What are the inspection fees for water-storage projects?
A:
The fee for examining plans and safety specifications for new or expanding water-storage projects that store 10 or more acre-feet of water is based on the height and breadth of the proposed structure. (See the current fee chart.)  Prorated annual fees for periodic safety inspections are expected to be $881 for significant hazard dams (1 to 2 homes downstream) and $1,208 for high hazard dams (3 or more homes downstream) starting July 2012.

Q: Is there some kind of exemption for newer storage facilities?
A: There is an exemption.  No fees are required for any water-storage project or reservoir that is less than 10 years old, provided Ecology has already examined and approved the construction plans and specifications for the structure.  For dams that are older than 10 but less than 20 years old and had plans approved by the department, Ecology cannot charge a fee greater than that for a significant-hazard dam. Significant-hazard dams are generally defined as dams located upstream of one or two homes that would pose a significant threat to human lives and property if the structures were to fail.

Q: How should I submit my fees to Ecology?
A:
Fees must be paid by check or money order. The department cannot accept cash and all fees must be collected in advance of any requested action.

Q: Are any of the fees refundable?
A:
No.

Q: What happens to the collected money?
A:
Under the new law, 80 percent of the fees will go to the state’s general fund.  The remaining 20 percent will be deposited in a special account that Ecology will use to develop, implement and manage a water-rights tracking system, including a mapping system and a database.