Washington Limits County Well Water Use for Now

Washington Department of Ecology Director Jay Manning has signed an emergency rule spelling out how underground water resources will be managed in northern Kittitas County, according to a July 9 press release.

Under the emergency rule, Kittitas County and the state agency will co-manage groundwater supplies until more is known about the aquifers and water supplies in northern Kittitas County. The emergency rule will remain in effect until a permanent rule adoption process is complete. Along with the emergency rule, a notice also has been filed that starts the process for putting a permanent rule in place.

As part of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed on April 7, the state and Kittitas County agreed to rulemaking in response to concerns raised about the number of wells being drilled for use by housing developments.

The MOA calls for a study that will define the hydrogeology of upper Kittitas County. The study will provide information about water availability and the relationship between surface and underground water. Information gathered from the study will be used to develop long-term water management strategies.

The emergency rule limits groundwater withdrawals in northern Kittitas County and addresses water supply issues for newly created residential developments and existing parcels. It limits new residential developments served by wells to a withdrawal of 5,000 gallons per day for each 40-acres of land.

The emergency rule may be appealed under procedures described in the Administrative Procedure Act. For additional information, contact Jerry Thielen, Ecology's Regulatory Affairs manager at (360) 407-7551 or by email jthi461@ecy.wa.gov. More information is available online at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/cro/kittitas_wp.html.

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