Local News

Legislature passes measure to give counties a heads-up about water-right transfers

Apr 06, 2011

Today the state House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate Bill 5555, a measure introduced by Sen. Linda Evans Parlette to make sure county commissioners east of the Cascades are notified when transfers of water rights between basins are proposed.

It has become increasingly difficult in recent years for water users to acquire new water rights. As a result, inter-basin water-right transfers - the transfer of a water right that occurs when the point of diversion is in a different basin than the proposed place of use - have become a valuable and necessary water-management tool.
These transfers can also have a major impact on the economic and social welfare of rural communities.

SB 5555 would require the Department of Ecology to notify commissioners in the affected Eastern Washington county or counties before issuing the permit.

"The economies of our counties depend on their ability to access water," said Parlette, R-Wenatchee. "There is a real concern that the transfer of water rights can lead to dry counties. I see this as a 'sunshine' bill - a way to make sure county commissioners are kept in the loop on an issue that has a big impact on their citizens."

Now that SB 5555 has passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives, it goes to the governor to be signed into law.

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