PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY
Subject of Possible Rule Making: Amendment of chapter 173-503 WAC, Instream resources protection program -- Lower and Upper Skagit water resources inventory area (WRIA 3 and 4). The proposed rule amendment will address future small groundwater withdrawals (permit-exempt wells) to provide potable water for domestic and small business needs. The instream flows established in chapter 173-503 WAC will not be amended.
Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: Chapter 90.54 RCW, Water Resources Act of 1971; chapter 90.22 RCW, Minimum water flows and levels; chapter 173-500 WAC, Water resources management program; and chapter 173-503 WAC, Instream resources protection program -- Lower and Upper Skagit water resources inventory area (WRIA 3 and 4).
Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: RCW 90.44.050 authorizes withdrawal of public ground waters of the state in an amount not to exceed 5,000 gallons per day for certain purposes without obtaining a permit from the Department of Ecology to appropriate such waters. These withdrawals to the extent regularly used beneficially are entitled to a right equal to that established by a permit issued under the provisions of chapter 90.44 RCW. Minimum instream flows established in chapter 173-503 WAC create a water right with a priority date as of the date the rule was established (April 14, 2001). Those flows are senior to any new exempt withdrawals begun after the rule. A rule amendment is necessary to create a new administrative framework to allow new exempt withdrawals to be used without interruption from the senior instream flow right.
Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: Ecology has exclusive statutory authority under chapter 90.22 RCW to establish minimum instream water flows. Consultation will occur with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Process for Developing New Rule: During the rule development consultations will be held with key stakeholders, including tribes, counties, cities, and water utilities. A press release and focus sheet will be written and distributed to mailing lists and e-mail lists. A public hearing will be held to solicit comments from other interested parties.
Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication by contacting Geoff Tallent, Department of Ecology, Northwest Regional Office, 3190 160th Avenue S.E., Bellevue, WA 98008, phone (425) 649-4318, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, fax (425) 649-7098.
November 10, 2004
Water Resources Program Manager