PDFRCW 90.46.005

FindingsCoordination of effortsDevelopment of facilities encouraged.

The legislature finds that by encouraging the use of reclaimed water while assuring the health and safety of all Washington citizens and the protection of its environment, the state of Washington will continue to use water in the best interests of present and future generations.
To facilitate the immediate use of reclaimed water for uses approved by the departments of ecology and health, the state shall expand both direct financial support and financial incentives for capital investments in water reuse and reclaimed water to effectuate the goals of this chapter. The legislature further directs the department of health and the department of ecology to coordinate efforts towards developing an efficient and streamlined process for creating and implementing processes for the use of reclaimed water.
It is hereby declared that the people of the state of Washington have a primary interest in the development of facilities to provide reclaimed water to replace potable water in nonpotable applications, to supplement existing surface and ground water supplies, and to assist in meeting the future water requirements of the state.
The legislature further finds and declares that the utilization of reclaimed water by local communities for domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational, and fish and wildlife habitat creation and enhancement purposes, including wetland enhancement, will contribute to the peace, health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state of Washington. To the extent reclaimed water is appropriate for beneficial uses, it should be so used to preserve potable water for drinking purposes, contribute to the restoration and protection of instream flows that are crucial to preservation of the state's salmonid fishery resources, contribute to the restoration of Puget Sound by reducing wastewater discharge, provide a drought resistant source of water supply for nonpotable needs, or be a source of supply integrated into state, regional, and local strategies to respond to population growth and global warming. Use of reclaimed water constitutes the development of new basic water supplies needed for future generations and local and regional water management planning should consider coordination of infrastructure, development, storage, water reclamation and reuse, and source exchange as strategies to meet water demands associated with population growth and impacts of global warming.
The legislature further finds and declares that the use of reclaimed water is not inconsistent with the policy of antidegradation of state waters announced in other state statutes, including the water pollution control act, chapter 90.48 RCW and the water resources act, chapter 90.54 RCW.
The legislature finds that other states, including California, Florida, and Arizona, have successfully used reclaimed water to supplement existing water supplies without threatening existing resources or public health.
It is the intent of the legislature that the department of ecology and the department of health undertake the necessary steps to encourage the development of water reclamation facilities so that reclaimed water may be made available to help meet the growing water requirements of the state.
The legislature further finds and declares that reclaimed water facilities are water pollution control facilities as defined in chapter 70A.135 RCW and are eligible for financial assistance as provided in chapter 70A.135 RCW. The legislature finds that funding demonstration projects will ensure the future use of reclaimed water. The demonstration projects in RCW 90.46.110 are varied in nature and will provide the experience necessary to test different facets of the standards and refine a variety of technologies so that water purveyors can begin to use reclaimed water technology in a more cost-effective manner. This is especially critical in smaller cities and communities where the feasibility for such projects is great, but there are scarce resources to develop the necessary facilities.
The legislature further finds that the agricultural processing industry can play a critical and beneficial role in promoting the efficient use of water by having the opportunity to develop and reuse agricultural industrial process water from food processing.
[ 2020 c 20 § 1495; 2007 c 445 § 2; 2001 c 69 § 1; 1997 c 355 § 1; 1995 c 342 § 1; 1992 c 204 § 1.]


FindingsIntent2007 c 445: "(1) Since the 1992 enactment of the reclaimed water act, the value of reclaimed water as a new source of supply has received increasing recognition across the state and across the nation. New information on the matters in this section has increased awareness of the need to better manage, protect, and conserve water resources and to use reclaimed water in that process. The legislature now finds the following:
(a) Global warming and climate change. Global warming has reduced the volume of glaciers in the North Cascade mountains to between eighteen to thirty-two percent since 1983, and up to seventy-five percent of the glaciers are at risk of disappearing under projected temperatures for this century. Mountain snow pack has declined at virtually every measurement location in the Pacific Northwest, reducing the proportion of annual river flow to Puget Sound during summer months by eighteen percent since 1948. Global warming has also shifted peak streamflows earlier in the year in watersheds covering much of Washington state, including the Columbia river basin, jeopardizing the state's salmon fisheries. The state's recent report on the economic impacts of climate change indicate that water resources will be one of the areas most affected, and that many utilities may need to invest major resources in new supply and conservation measures. Developing and implementing adaptation strategies, such as water conservation that includes the use of reclaimed water, can extend existing water supply systems to help address the global warming impacts. In particular, because reclaimed water uses existing sources of supply and fairly constant base flows of wastewater, it has year-round dependability, without regard to any given year's climate variability. This is particularly important during summer months, when outdoor demands peak and streamflows are critical for fish.
(b) Puget Sound. The governor has initiated a Puget Sound partnership, with a request for an initial strategy to address high priority problems. In December, the partnership delivered a strategy that includes expanded use of reclaimed water both in order to improve the Puget Sound's water quality by reducing wastewater discharges and by replacing current sources of supply for nonpotable uses that detrimentally affect streamflows and habitat.
(c) Salmon recovery. The federal fisheries services recently approved a salmon recovery plan for the Puget Sound, which was developed across multiple watersheds by numerous local governments, tribal governments, and other parties to achieve sustainable populations of salmon and other species. That plan includes an adaptive management component where continued efforts will be made to address issues, including problems with instream flows, identified as a limiting factor in virtually all the watersheds, through strategies that will be developed by regional and watershed implementation groups. A potentially significant strategy may be the substitution of reclaimed water for nonpotable uses where it will benefit streams and habitat.
(d) Water quality. Increasingly stringent federal standards for water quality are forcing a number of communities to develop strategies for wastewater treatment that, in addition to providing higher treatment levels, will reduce the quantity of discharges. For many of those communities, facilities to produce reclaimed water will be a necessary approach to achieve both water quality and water supply objectives.
(e) Watershed plans. Under the watershed planning act of 1997, approximately two-thirds of the watersheds in the state have used a bottom-up approach to developing collaborative plans for meeting future water supply needs. Many of those plans include the use of reclaimed water for meeting those needs.
(f) Columbia river water management. Pursuant to legislation and funding provided in 2006, federal, state, and local governments and agencies, along with tribal governments, user groups, environmental organizations, and others are developing a comprehensive strategy for the mainstem Columbia that will ensure supplies for future growth while protecting streamflows and fish habitat. The strategy will include multiple tools that may include the potential development of new storage, conservation measures, and water use efficiency. One pathway toward conservation and efficiency is likely to be identification and implementation of reclaimed water opportunities.
(g) Development schedule. The time frame required to plan, design, construct, and begin use of reclaimed water can be extensive due to the public information and acceptance efforts required in addition to planning, design, and environmental assessment required for infrastructure projects. This extended time frame necessitates the initiation of reclaimed water projects as soon as possible.
(2) It is therefore the intent of the legislature to:
(a) Effectuate and reinvigorate the original intent behind the reclaimed water act to expand the use of reclaimed water for nonpotable uses throughout the state;
(b) Restate and emphasize the use of reclaimed water as a matter of water resource management policy;
(c) Address current barriers to the use of reclaimed water, where changes in state law will resolve such issues;
(d) Develop information from the state agencies responsible for promoting the use of reclaimed water and address regulatory, financial, planning, and other barriers to the expanded use of reclaimed water, relying on state agency expertise and experience with reclaimed water;
(e) Facilitate achieving state, regional, and local objectives through use of reclaimed water for water supply purposes in high priority areas of the state, and in regional and local watershed and water planning;
(f) Provide planning tools to local governments to incorporate reclaimed water and related water conservation into land use plans, consistent with water planning;
(g) Expand the scope of work of the advisory committee established under chapter 279, Laws of 2006 to identify other reclaimed water issues that should be addressed; and
(h) Provide initial funding, and evaluate options for providing additional direct state funding, for reclaimed water projects." [ 2007 c 445 § 1.]
Construction1995 c 342: "This act shall not be construed as affecting any existing right acquired or liability or obligation incurred under the sections amended or repealed in this act or under any rule or order adopted under those sections, nor as affecting any proceeding instituted under those sections." [ 1995 c 342 § 10.]
Effective date1995 c 342: "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 shall take effect immediately [May 11, 1995]." [ 1995 c 342 § 11.]