90.44.510  <<  90.44.520 >>   90.44.530

Odessa groundwater subareaInvoluntary nonuse of water rightsConditionsNoticeReport to the legislature. (Expires July 1, 2021.)

(1) In order to encourage more efficient use of water, where the source of water is an aquifer within the Odessa groundwater subarea as defined in chapter 173-128A WAC:
(a) Any period of nonuse of a right to withdraw groundwater from the aquifer is deemed to be involuntary due to a drought or low flow period under RCW 90.14.140(2)(b); and
(b) Such unused water is deemed a standby or reserve water supply that may again be used after the period of nonuse, as long as: (i) Reductions in water use are a result of conservation practices, irrigation or water use efficiencies, long or short-term changes in the types or rotations of crops grown, economic hardship, pumping or system infrastructure costs, unavailability or unsuitability of water, or willing and documented participation in cooperative efforts to reduce aquifer depletion and optimize available water resources; (ii) withdrawal or diversion facilities are maintained in good operating condition; and (iii) the department has not issued a superseding water right permit or certificate to designate a portion of the groundwater right replaced by federal Columbia Basin project water as a standby or reserve right under RCW 90.44.510.
(2)(a) A water right holder choosing to not exercise a water right in accordance with the provisions of this section must provide notice to the department in writing within one hundred eighty days of such choice. The notice shall include the name of the water right holder and the number of the permit, certificate, or claim.
(b) When a water right holder chooses to discontinue nonuse under the provisions of this section, notice of such action must be provided to the department in writing. Notice is not required under this subsection (2)(b) for seasonal fluctuations in use if the right is not fully exercised as reflected in the notice provided under (a) of this subsection.
(3) The provisions of this section relating to the nonuse of all or a portion of a water right are in addition to any other provisions relating to such nonuse under existing law.
(4) If water from the federal Columbia Basin project has been delivered to a place of use authorized under a right to withdraw groundwater from the aquifer, the provisions of RCW 90.44.510 apply and supersede the provisions of this section.
(5) Portions of rights protected under this section may not be transferred outside Odessa subarea boundaries as defined in WAC 173-128A-040. Transfers within Odessa subarea boundaries remain subject to the provisions of RCW 90.03.380, 90.03.390, 90.44.100, and WAC 173-130A-200.
(6) The department shall submit a report to the legislature as to the status of the aquifer, participation in the nonuse program set forth in this section, and the outcome of the United States bureau of reclamation's study on feasible alternatives to Odessa groundwater use. This report must be submitted six months after completion of the United States bureau of reclamation's study, which is expected to be completed in February 2011. The department's report must also suggest viable solutions and the actions needed by the state to move forward with such solutions.

NOTES:

Expiration date2006 c 168 § 2: "Section 2 of this act expires July 1, 2021." [ 2006 c 168 § 3.]
Effective date2006 c 168: "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 takes effect immediately [March 22, 2006]." [ 2006 c 168 § 4.]
Findings2006 c 168: "(1) The legislature finds that the department of ecology adopted groundwater management subarea rules to manage aquifer depletions in the Odessa subarea, which includes undeveloped portions of the federal Columbia Basin project.
(2) The legislature also finds that deep well agricultural irrigation was permitted within the Odessa subarea under the expectation that federal Columbia Basin project water would be delivered to replace the temporary groundwater withdrawals in time to stabilize aquifer levels.
(3) The legislature further finds that because federal project water has not been delivered as anticipated, aquifer levels have continued to decline despite department of ecology and community efforts to manage groundwater withdrawals in a sustainable manner.
(4) The legislature further finds that, because substantial project expansion and aquifer recharge is a long-term effort, the continued availability of groundwater for domestic, municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses in the region is in great jeopardy.
(5) The legislature therefore declares that immediate relief is needed to encourage more efficient use of water and to protect the region's citizens from economic hardships and public health and safety risks that can result from declining aquifer levels." [ 2006 c 168 § 1.]
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