Hillis Rule Amendment: Chapter 173-152 WAC – “Water Rights”

This page is being maintained as an archive of past information and will not be updated.

The Department of Ecology adopted an amendment to Chapter 173-152 WAC, commonly referred to as the Hillis Rule.  The proposed rule amendment was filed with the Office of the Code Reviser on July 7, 2010.  The amendment was adopted on December 20, 2010 and became effective on January 20, 2011.


The original rule was adopted in 1998, and legislation since then has created a variety of new possibilities for water management.  Ecology’s Water Resources staff have been able to take new legislation into account and still work within the Hillis rule framework until the passage of Chapter 90.90 RCW, Columbia River Basin Water Supply.  Ecology’s amendment of the Hillis Rule allows priority processing of water right applications for projects such as temporary water use for private projects directly related to renewable energy or environmental enhancement, and new diversionary rights into reservoirs as part of the Columbia River Basin Water Supply program.

WAC 173-152-010 Purpose. This rule establishes the framework under which the department can:

  1. Provide for the organization of its work;
  2. Prioritize basins to be assessed;
  3. Conduct basin assessments;
  4. Prioritize investigations of water right applications by geographic areas; and
  5. Establish criteria for priority processing of applications for:
    1. New water rights; and
    2. Change or transfer of existing water rights.

Bringing water rights processing in line with current statutes and policies means much-needed high priority water needs won’t be stalled in the current backlog of water right applications. For current alternatives for processing water rights, see the focus sheet, “Alternatives for water right application processing”.


Eastern Regional Office
Dept. of Ecology
4601 N. Monroe Street
Spokane WA 99205
Phone: 509-329-3541