WA Irrigation District Settles Illegal Water Use Case

The Washington Department of Ecology had fined the district in 2015 for diverting water that was placed into trust to protect critical stream flows for threatened steelhead in the Touchet River. The river is part of a watershed that is one of 16 considered critical for providing habitat for threatened migratory fish.

The Touchet Eastside Westside Irrigation District has agreed to pay a reduced fine for illegally using water intended to protect fish, the Washington Department of Ecology announced March 17. The district, located near Walla Walla, must apply $10,000 of the fine toward operation and maintenance of metering and reporting equipment. The Pollution Control Hearings Board approved the settlement March 16.

Ecology had fined the district in 2015 for diverting water that was placed into trust to protect critical stream flows for threatened steelhead in the Touchet River. The river is part of a watershed that is one of 16 considered critical for providing habitat for threatened migratory fish.

Ecology reduced the fine to $62,543 from the original $73,530 because the district provided adjusted metering data that more accurately reflected the amount of water illegally used. The settlement requires the district to pay half of the penalty, with the rest to be excused after three years as long as terms in the agreement are met. Terms include providing accurate metering data and staying within the limits of permitted water use.

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