90.03.260  <<  90.03.265 >>   90.03.270

Appropriation procedureCost-reimbursement agreement for expedited review of applicationAdoption of rules.

(1)(a) Any applicant for a new withdrawal or a change, transfer, or amendment of a water right pending before the department may initiate a cost-reimbursement agreement with the department to provide expedited review of the application. A cost-reimbursement agreement may be initiated under this section if the applicant agrees to pay for, or as part of a cooperative effort agrees to pay for, the cost of processing his or her application and all other applications from the same source of supply which must be acted upon before the applicant's request because they were filed prior to the date of when the applicant filed.
(b) The requirement to pay for the cost of other applications under (a) of this subsection does not apply to an application for a new appropriation that would not diminish the water available to earlier pending applicants for new appropriations from the same source of supply.
(c) The requirement to pay for the cost of processing other applications under (a) of this subsection does not apply to an application for a change, transfer, or other amendment that would not diminish the water available to earlier pending applicants for changes or transfers from the same source of supply.
(d) In determining whether an application would not diminish the water available to earlier pending applicants, the department shall consider any water impoundment or other water resource management mitigation technique proposed by the applicant under RCW 90.03.255 or 90.44.055.
(e) The department may enter into cost-reimbursement agreements provided resources are available and shall use the process established under RCW 43.21A.690 for entering into cost-reimbursement agreements. The department's share of work related to a cost-reimbursement application, such as final certificate approval, must be prioritized within the framework of other water right processing needs and as determined by agency rule.
(f) Each individual applicant is responsible for his or her own appeal costs that may result from a water right decision made by the department under this section. In the event that the department's approval of an application under this section is appealed under chapter 43.21B RCW by a third party, the applicant for the water right in question must reimburse the department for the cost of defending the decision before the pollution control hearings board unless otherwise agreed to by the applicant and the department. If an applicant appeals either an approval or a denial made by the department under this section, the applicant is responsible only for its own appeal costs.
(2) In pursuing a cost-reimbursement project, the department must determine the source of water proposed to be diverted or withdrawn from, including the boundaries of the area that delimits the source. The department must determine if any other water right permit applications are pending from the same source. A water source may include surface water only, groundwater only, or surface and groundwater together if the department finds they are hydraulically connected. The department shall consider technical information submitted by the applicant in making its determinations under this subsection. The department may recover from a cost-reimbursement applicant its own costs in making the same source determination under this subsection.
(3) Upon request of the applicant seeking cost-reimbursement processing, the department may elect to initiate a coordinated cost-reimbursement process. To initiate this process, the department must notify in writing all persons who have pending applications on file for a new appropriation, change, transfer, or amendment of a water right from that water source. A water source may include surface water only, groundwater only, or surface and groundwater together if the department determines that they are hydraulically connected. The notice must be posted on the department's web site and published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where affected properties are located. The notice must also be made individually by way of mail to:
(a) Inform those applicants that cost-reimbursement processing of applications within the described water source is being initiated;
(b) Provide to individual applicants the criteria under which the applications will be examined and determined;
(c) Provide to individual applicants the estimated cost for having an application processed on a cost-reimbursement basis;
(d) Provide an estimate of how long the cost-reimbursement process will take before an application is approved or denied; and
(e) Provide at least sixty days for the applicants to respond in writing regarding the applicant's decision to participate in the cost-reimbursement process.
(4) The applicant initiating the cost-reimbursement request must pay for the cost of the determination under subsections (2) and (3) of this section and other costs necessary for the initial phase of cost-reimbursement processing. The cost for each applicant for conducting processing under a coordinated cost-reimbursement agreement must be based primarily on the proportionate quantity of water requested by each applicant. The cost may be adjusted if it appears that an application will require a disproportionately greater amount of time and effort to process due to its complexity.
(5)(a) Only the department may approve or deny a water right application processed under this section, and such a final decision remains solely the responsibility and function of the department. The department retains full authority to amend, refuse, or approve any work product provided by any consultant under this section. The department may recover its costs related to: (i) The review of a consultant to ensure that no conflict of interest exists; (ii) the management of consultant contracts and cost-reimbursement agreements; and (iii) the review of work products provided by participating consultants.
(b) For any cost-reimbursement process initiated under subsection (1) of this section, the applicant may, after consulting with the department, select a prequalified consultant listed by the department under subsection (7) of this section or may be assigned such a prequalified consultant by the department.
(c) For any coordinated cost-reimbursement process initiated under subsection (3) of this section, the applicant may, after consulting with the department, select a prequalified consultant listed by the department under subsection (7) of this section or may be assigned a prequalified consultant by the department.
(d) In lieu of having one or more of the work products performed by a prequalified consultant listed under subsection (7) of this section, the department may, at its discretion, recognize specific work completed by an applicant or an applicant's consultant prior to the initiation of cost-reimbursement processing. The department may also, at its discretion, authorize the use of such a consultant to perform a specific scope of the work that would otherwise be assigned to prequalified consultants listed under subsection (7) of this section.
(e) At any point during the cost-reimbursement process, the department may request or accept technical information, data, and analysis from the applicant or the applicant's consultant to support the cost-reimbursement process or the department's decision on the application.
(6) The department is authorized to adopt rules or guidance providing minimum qualifications and standards for any consultant's submission of work products under this section, including standards for submission of technical information, scientific analysis, work product documentation, review for conflict of interest, and report presentation that such a consultant must meet.
(7) The department must provide notice to potential consultants of the opportunity to be considered for inclusion on the list of cost-reimbursement consultants to whom work assignments will be made. The department must competitively select an appropriate number of consultants who are qualified by training and experience to investigate and make recommendations on the disposition of water right applications. The prequalified consultant list must be renewed at least every six years, though the department may add qualified cost-reimbursement consultants to the list at any time. The department must enter a master contract with each consultant selected and thereafter make work assignments based on availability and qualifications.
(8) The department may remove any consultant from the consultant list for poor performance, malfeasance, or excessive complaints from cost-reimbursement participants. The department may interview any cost-reimbursement consultant to determine whether the person is qualified for this work, and must spot-check the work of consultants to ensure that the public is being competently served.
(9) When a prequalified cost-reimbursement consultant from the department's list described in subsection (7) of this section is assigned or selected to investigate an application or set of applications, the consultant must document its findings and recommended disposition in the form of written draft technical reports and preliminary draft reports of examination. Within two weeks of the department receiving draft technical reports and preliminary draft reports of examination, the department shall provide the applicant such documents for review and comment prior to their completion by the consultant. The department shall consider such comments by the applicant prior to the department's issuance of a draft report of examination. The department may modify the preliminary draft reports of examination submitted by the consultant. The department's decision on a permit application is final unless it is appealed to the pollution control hearings board under chapter 43.21B RCW.
(10) If an applicant elects not to participate in a cost-reimbursement process, the application remains on file with the department, retains its priority date, and may be processed under regular processing, priority processing, expedited processing, coordinated cost-reimbursement processing, cost-reimbursement processing, or through conservancy board processing as authorized under chapter 90.80 RCW.

NOTES:

Intent2010 c 285: "Water is an essential element for economic prosperity and it generates new, family-wage jobs and state revenues. It is the intent of the legislature to provide both water right applicants and the department of ecology with the necessary tools to expedite the processing of water right applications depending on the needs of the project and agency workload." [ 2010 c 285 § 1.]
IntentCaptions not lawEffective date2000 c 251: See notes following RCW 43.21A.690.
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