State of Washington
66th Legislature
2019 Regular Session
BySenate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks (originally sponsored by Senators Walsh, Warnick, McCoy, Kuderer, Van De Wege, and Hasegawa)
AN ACT Relating to the Walla Walla watershed management pilot program; amending RCW 90.92.010, 90.92.050, and 90.92.060; amending 2009 c 183 s 20 (uncodified); providing an effective date; providing an expiration date; and declaring an emergency.
Sec. 1. RCW 90.92.010 and 2009 c 183 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
The legislature finds that ((the Walla Walla watershed community faces substantial challenges in planning for future water use and meeting the needs of fish, farms, and people. The legislature further finds that the participants in the Walla Walla watershed planning group have demonstrated exceptional cooperation in developing an innovative water management concept that enhances flexibility in water use while protecting ecological functions))participants in the Walla Walla watershed pilot program have demonstrated exceptional cooperation in developing and implementing an innovative water management concept that enhances flexibility in water use since convening in 2009. The legislature further finds that the existing authorities and structure of the pilot program must evolve to meet the growing water resource demands in the Walla Walla watershed and to protect and enhance ecological functions. As the next step in the process, the legislature intends to extend the Walla Walla pilot program through June 30, 2021, to allow the pilot to perform internal and external evaluations, build upon previous pilot program efforts, continue Walla Walla river flow enhancement technical work, and restructure this chapter to develop a thirty-year integrated water resource management strategic plan. The legislature ((also))continues to recognize((s)) the significant contribution of former state representative William Grant's leadership in the creation of a Walla Walla pilot design to authorize local water management activity.
Sec. 2. RCW 90.92.050 and 2009 c 183 s 5 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The board has the following authority, duties, and responsibilities:
(a) Assume the duties, responsibilities, and all current activities of the watershed planning unit and the initiating governments authorized in RCW 90.82.040;
(b) Develop strategic actions for the planning area by building on the watershed plan;
(c) Adopt and revise criteria, guidance, and processes to effectuate the purpose of this chapter;
(d) Administer the local water plan process;
(e) Oversee local water plan implementation;
(f) Manage banked water as authorized under this chapter;
(g) Acquire water rights by donation, purchase, or lease;
(h) Participate in local, state, tribal, federal, and multistate basin water planning initiatives and programs; and
(i) Enter into agreements with water rights holders to not divert water that becomes available as a result of local water plans, water banking activities, or other programs and projects endorsed by the board and the department.
(2) During the transition period of July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2021, the board shall:
(a) Participate with the department to complete, by June 30, 2020, department-funded performance and financial audits to evaluate the Walla Walla pilot program since 2008 and to incorporate audit findings and recommendations into a thirty-year integrated water resource management strategy;
(b) Continue working with the department, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and other participants to advance the Walla Walla basin flow enhancement study and its recommendation, including any necessary environmental reviews for near-term actions;
(c) Collaborate with the department in the development of a thirty-year integrated water resource management strategic plan, including a draft and final programmatic environmental impact statement, and explore interstate agreements to maximize integrated water resource management;
(d) By November 1, 2020, jointly develop with the department a report to the legislature recommending the scope and scale of an integrated water resource management strategic plan, including a funding approach and organization structure, to achieve the desired outcome of improved and sustainable flows for fish, adequate water supplies for agriculture, municipal, and domestic water users, and improved habitat and floodplain functionality in the Walla Walla watershed; and
(e) Coordinate with the department's office of Columbia river to request funding to complete tasks required during the transition period.
(3) The board may acquire, purchase, hold, lease, manage, occupy, and sell real and personal property, including water rights, or any interest in water rights, enter into and perform all necessary contracts, appoint and employ necessary agents and employees, including an executive director and fix their compensation, employ contractors including contracts for professional services, and do all lawful acts required and expedient to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
(((3)))(4) The board constitutes an independently funded entity, and may provide for its own funding as determined by the board. The board may solicit and accept grants, loans, and donations and may adopt fees for services it provides. The board may not impose taxes or acquire property, including water rights, by the exercise of eminent domain. The board may distribute available funds as grants or loans to local water plans or other water initiatives and projects that will further the goals of the board.
(((4)))(5) The ability of the board to fully meet its duties under this chapter is dependent on the level of funding available to the board. If sufficient funding is not available to the board to carry out its duties, the board may, in consultation with the department, establish a plan that determines and sets priorities for implementation of the board's duties.
(((5)))(6) The board, and its members and staff, acting in their official capacities, are immune from liability and are not subject to any cause of action or claim for damages arising from acts or omissions engaged in under this chapter.
(((6)))(7) Upon the creation of the board, and for the duration of the board, the existing planning unit for the planning area, established under RCW 90.82.040, is dissolved and all assets, funds, files, planning documents, pending plans and grant applications, and other current activities of the planning unit are transferred to the board.
Sec. 3. RCW 90.92.060 and 2009 c 183 s 6 are each amended to read as follows:
The board, in collaboration with the department, must provide a written report to the legislature by ((December 1, 2012, December 1, 2015, and December 1, 2018. The report must summarize the actions, funding, and accomplishments of the board in the previous three years, and submit recommendations for improvement of the local water plan process. The 2018 report must also contain recommendations on the future of the board))November 1, 2020, as described in RCW 90.92.050.
Sec. 4. 2009 c 183 s 20 (uncodified) is amended to read as follows:
This act expires June 30, ((2019))2021.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5. This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect June 30, 2019.
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