S-2161.1  _______________________________________________


                    SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5785



State of Washington      55th Legislature     1997 Regular Session


By Senate Committee on Agriculture & Environment (originally sponsored by Senators Swecker, Newhouse, Morton, Haugen and Rasmussen)


Read first time 03/05/97.

Providing for consolidation of ground water rights of exempt wells.

    AN ACT Relating to consolidating ground water rights of exempt wells; and adding a new section to chapter 90.44 RCW.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  A new section is added to chapter 90.44 RCW to read as follows:

    Upon the issuance by the department of an amendment to the appropriate permit or certificate of ground water right, the holder of a valid right to withdraw public ground waters may, without affecting the priority of that right, consolidate that right with a ground water right exempt from the permit requirement under RCW 90.44.050.  Such a consolidation amendment shall be issued only after publication of notice of the application and a determination made by the department, in lieu of meeting the conditions required for an amendment under RCW 90.44.100, that:  (1) The exempt well taps the same body of public ground water as the well to which the water right of the exempt well is to be consolidated; (2) use of the exempt well shall be discontinued upon approval of the consolidation amendment to the permit or certificate; (3) legally enforceable agreements have been entered to prohibit the construction of another exempt well to serve the area previously served by the exempt well to be discontinued, and such agreements are binding upon subsequent owners of the land through appropriate binding limitations on the title to the land; (4) the exempt well or wells that are to be abandoned will be properly decommissioned in accordance with chapter 18.104 RCW and the rules of the department; and (5) other existing rights, including ground and surface water rights and minimum stream flows adopted by rule, shall not be impaired.  The amount of the water to be added to the holder's permit or certificate upon discontinuance of the exempt well shall be the average withdrawal from the well for the most recent five-year period preceding the date of the application, except that the amount shall not be less than eight hundred gallons per day for each residential connection or such alternative minimum amount as may be established by the department, and shall not exceed five thousand gallons per day.  The department shall accord a presumption in favor of the applicant's proposed amount if the applicant's information establishes activities for the five-year period in the area served by the well to be consistent with average water usage for such activities in the general area.  The department shall develop a schedule of average household and small-area landscaping water usages in consultation with the department of health to aid in applying the presumption.  The presumption may be rebutted by credible evidence of nonusage of the well during the required period or a substantially different use or intensity of use of the land.  The department shall also accord a presumption in favor of approval of such consolidation if the requirements of this subsection are met and the discontinuance of the exempt well is consistent with an adopted coordinated water system plan under chapter 70.116 RCW, an adopted comprehensive land use plan under chapter 36.70A RCW, or other comprehensive watershed management plan applicable to the area containing an objective of decreasing the number of existing and newly developed small ground water withdrawal wells.  The department shall provide a priority to reviewing and deciding upon applications subject to this subsection, and shall make its decision within sixty days of the end of the comment period following publication of the notice by the applicant or within sixty days of the date on which compliance with the state environmental policy act, chapter 43.21C RCW, is completed, whichever is later.  The applicant and the department may by prior mutual agreement extend the time for making a decision.


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