Policy — Findings.
(1) It is the policy of the state of Washington to recognize and preserve water rights in accordance with RCW 90.03.010.
(2) The legislature finds that:
(a) The state of Washington is faced with a shortage of water with which to meet existing and future needs, particularly during the summer and fall months and in dry years when the demand is greatest;
(b) Consistent with RCW 90.54.180, issuance of new water rights, voluntary water transfers, and conservation and water use efficiency programs, including storage, all are acceptable methods of addressing water uses because they can relieve current critical water situations, provide for presently unmet needs, and assist in meeting future water needs. Presently unmet needs or current needs includes the water required to increase the frequency of occurrence of base or minimum flow levels in streams of the state, the water necessary to satisfy existing water rights, or the water necessary to provide full supplies to existing water systems with current supply deficiencies;
(c) The interests of the state and its citizens will be served by developing programs and regional water resource plans, in cooperation with local governments, federally recognized tribal governments, appropriate federal agencies, private citizens, and the various water users and water interests in the state, that increase the overall ability to manage the state's waters in order to resolve conflicts and to better satisfy both present and future needs for water; and
(d) Water banking as a function of the trust water [rights] program and as authorized by this chapter can provide an effective means to facilitate the voluntary transfer of water rights established through conservation, purchase, lease, or donation, to preserve water rights and provide water for presently unmet and future needs; and to achieve a variety of water resource management objectives throughout the state, including drought response, improving streamflows on a voluntary basis, providing water mitigation, or reserving water supply for future uses.
[2003 c 144 § 1; 1991 c 347 § 1.]
| Effective date -- 2003 c 144: "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 [May 7, 2003]." [2003 c 144 § 8.]|
Purposes -- 1991 c 347: "The purposes of this act are to:
(1) Improve the ability of the state to work with the United States, local governments, federally recognized tribal governments, water right holders, water users, and various water interests in water conservation and water use efficiency programs designed to satisfy existing rights, presently unmet needs, and future needs, both instream and out-of-stream;
(2) Establish new incentives, enhance existing incentives, and remove disincentives for efficient water use;
(3) Establish improved means to disseminate information to the public and provide technical assistance regarding ways to improve the efficiency of water use;
(4) Create a trust water rights mechanism for the acquisition of water rights on a voluntary basis to be used to meet presently unmet needs and future needs;
(5) Prohibit the sale of nonconforming plumbing fixtures and require the marking and labeling of fixtures meeting state standards;
(6) Reduce tax disincentives to water conservation, reuse, and improved water use efficiency; and
(7) Add achievement of water conservation as a factor to be considered by water supply utilities in setting water rates." [1991 c 347 § 2.]