43.83B.405  <<  43.83B.410 >>   43.83B.415

Drought conditionsWithdrawals and diversionsOrders, authority granted.

Upon the issuance of an order under RCW 43.83B.405, the department of ecology is empowered to:
(1)(a) Authorize emergency withdrawal of public surface and ground waters, including dead storage within reservoirs, on a temporary basis and authorize associated physical works which may be either temporary or permanent. The termination date for the authority to make such an emergency withdrawal may not be later than the termination date of the order issued under RCW 43.83B.405 under which the power to authorize the withdrawal is established. The department of ecology may issue such withdrawal authorization when, after investigation and after providing appropriate federal, state, and local governmental bodies an opportunity to comment, the following are found:
(i) The waters proposed for withdrawal are to be used for a beneficial use involving a previously established activity or purpose;
(ii) The previously established activity or purpose was furnished water through rights applicable to the use of a public body of water that cannot be exercised due to the lack of water arising from natural drought conditions; and
(iii) The proposed withdrawal will not reduce flows or levels below essential minimums necessary (A) to assure the maintenance of fisheries requirements, and (B) to protect federal and state interests including, among others, power generation, navigation, and existing water rights;
(b) All withdrawal authorizations issued under this section shall contain provisions that allow for termination of withdrawals, in whole or in part, whenever withdrawals will conflict with flows and levels as provided in (a)(iii) of this subsection. Domestic and irrigation uses of public surface and ground waters shall be given priority in determining "beneficial uses." As to water withdrawal and associated works authorized under this subsection, the requirements of chapter 43.21C RCW and public bidding requirements as otherwise provided by law are waived and inapplicable. All state and local agencies with authority to issue permits or other authorizations for such works shall, to the extent possible, expedite the processing of the permits or authorizations in keeping with the emergency nature of the requests and shall provide a decision to the applicant within fifteen calendar days of the date of application. All state departments or other agencies having jurisdiction over state or other public lands, if such lands are necessary to effectuate the withdrawal authorizations issued under this subsection, shall provide short-term easements or other appropriate property interest upon the payment of the fair market value. This mandate shall not apply to any lands of the state that are reserved for a special purpose or use that cannot properly be carried out if the property interest were conveyed;
(2) Approve a temporary change in purpose, place of use, or point of diversion, consistent with existing state policy allowing transfer or lease of waters between willing parties, as provided for in RCW 90.03.380, 90.03.390, and 90.44.100. However, compliance with any requirements of (a) notice of newspaper publication of these sections or (b) the state environmental policy act, chapter 43.21C RCW, is not required when such changes are necessary to respond to drought conditions as determined by the department of ecology. An approval of a temporary change of a water right as authorized under this subsection is not admissible as evidence in either supporting or contesting the validity of water claims in State of Washington, Department of Ecology v. Acquavella, Yakima county superior court number 77-2-01484-5 or any similar proceeding where the existence of a water right is at issue.
(3) Employ additional persons for specified terms of time, consistent with the term of a drought condition, as are necessary to ensure the successful performance of the activities associated with implementing the emergency drought program of this chapter.
(4) Revise the drought contingency plan previously developed by the department; and
(5) Acquire needed emergency drought-related equipment.


Severability1989 c 171: See note following RCW 43.83B.400.
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