RAPID/Roadmap/19-WA-g

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Washington Reservoir Permit (19-WA-g)

In Washington, a developer must obtain a Reservoir Permit from the Washington Department of Ecology (“Department of Ecology”) to construct an impoundment and store water, for beneficial use, in a reservoir more than ten (10) acre-feet in volume or if it is ten (10) or more feet deep at its deepest point. “Beneficial use includes, among others, uses for …industrial, commercial, hydroelectric power production, thermal power production…” W.A.C. § 173-157-040.

This Reservoir Permit threshold includes any “…proposed impounding structure which obstructs any stream or watercourse and to any excavation and/or dike built off-channel from any stream or watercourse. A Reservoir Permit also applies to “…any impounding structure, which will increase the depth or capacity of any existing reservoir.” W.A.C. § 508-12-260; Application for a Reservoir Permit, at p. 4. A reservoir includes, in addition, to “…any surface reservoir, any naturally occurring underground geological formation where water is collected and stored for subsequent use as part of an underground artificial storage and recovery project.” W.R.C. § 90.03.370(2)(a). To qualify for issuance of a Reservoir Permit an underground geological formation must meet standards for review and mitigation of adverse impacts identified, for the following issues:

  • Aquifer vulnerability and hydraulic continuity;
  • Potential impairment of existing water rights;
  • Geotechnical impacts and aquifer boundaries and characteristics;
  • Chemical compatibility of surface waters and groundwater;
  • Recharge and recovery treatment requirements;
  • System operation;
  • Water rights and ownership of water stored for recovery; and
  • Environmental impacts.

W.R.C. § 90.03.370(2)(a)(i)-(viii).

The Department of Ecology regulates reservoirs pursuant to Washington – Wash. Admin. Code §§ 508-12 et seq., Administration of Surface and Groundwater Codes, Washington – Wash. Admin. Code §§ 173-157 et seq., Underground Artificial Storage and Recovery, and Washington – Wash. Rev. Code §§ 90.03 et seq., Water Code.


Reservoir Permit Process

19-WA-g.1 – Assess Potential Impacts of Proposed Project

The developer should assess potential impacts to the hydrogeological system and the environment prior to submitting a Reservoir Permit Application (“Application”). W.A.C. §173-157-100.

19-WA-g.2 – Contact Local Department of Ecology Office

The developer should contact the appropriate local Washington Department of Ecology (“Department of Ecology”) for details regarding the Reservoir Permit and other permits that may apply to the proposed project.

Hydropower

A hydropower developer may be required to obtain a Reservoir Permit for a pump-storage facility. Usually if a developer is required to obtain a Reservoir Permit, the developer will also be required to obtain a Water Right from the Department of Ecology.

A hydropower developer of a pump-storage facility may also be required to obtain a Secondary Permit from the Department of Ecology. A developer may need a Secondary Permit to put water stored in a reservoir to beneficial use, if there is not already a water right for the source water that authorizes the proposed beneficial use. W.A.C. §173-157-050. For more information on Secondary Permits the developer should contact the appropriate local Department of Ecology office.


19-WA-g.3 – Water Right Pre-Application Consultation Form

Developers are encouraged to complete the pre-application consultation proces, (also used when obtaining a water right) prior to submitting a Reservoir Permit Application (“Application”) to the Department of Ecology. Washington Governor’s Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance Website – Reservoir Permit. The developer should submit a complete Washington Department of Ecology - Water Right Pre-Application Consultation Form (“Pre-Application Consultation Form”) to the applicable regional Department of Ecology office. The Pre-Application Consultation Form should include, at minimum, the following:

  • Developer’s contact information;
  • A description of the proposed project, including the project’s location;
  • Identification of the source of the water used; and
  • A copy of the maps depicting the project location.

Washington Department of Ecology - Water Right Pre-Application Consultation Form.

The developer may e-mail the Pre-Application Consultation Form to wrPreApp@ecy.wa.gov or mail a completed form to the appropriate regional Department of Ecology office. Washington Governor’s Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance Website – Reservoir Permit.


19-WA-g.4 – Hold Pre-Application Consultation Meeting

The Department of Ecology usually contacts the developer within two (2) days after receiving a Pre-Application Consultation Form. Washington Governor’s Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance Website – Reservoir Permit. During the meeting the Department of Ecology will review the proposed project’s details and water supply needs.

The Department of Ecology encourages holding a pre-application meeting to discuss the project plan and likely requirements for monitoring and mitigation. W.A.C. §173-157-100(3).

19-WA-g.5 – Application for a Reservoir Permit

The developer must submit a complete Application for a Reservoir Permit (“Application”) to the Department of Ecology for review. The Application should include, at minimum, the following:

  • The developer’s contact information;
  • A description of the proposed project, including the reservoir water supply, and the type and capacity of water diversion used pursuant to W.A.C. §173-157-120;
  • A description of the location of point of diversion or withdrawal;
  • A description of the location of the impounding structure, including plats and maps;
  • Two copies of the plans and specifications for constructing the impounding structure, including the estimated cost of the proposed work pursuant to W.R.C. § 90.03.350;
  • A legal description of the property on which water is to be used, pursuant to W.A.C. §173-157-140;
  • A description of the project operation plan pursuant to W.A.C. §173-157-130;
  • An environmental assessment and analysis of any potential adverse conditions or potential impacts statement pursuant to W.A.C. §173-157-150.  ;
  • A project mitigation plan pursuant to W.A.C. §173-157-160.
  • A project monitoring plan pursuant to W.A.C. §173-157-170; and
  • An Application fee of $50.00.

Washington Department of Ecology – Application for a Reservoir Permit; W.A.C. §173-157-110. .


19-WA-g.6 to 19-WA-g.7 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The Department of Ecology will review the Application for administrative and technical completeness. The Department of Ecology may request additional information from the developer, if necessary.

If the Application does not describe the general setting and conditions with sufficient information for the Department of Ecology to assess the Application, the Department of Ecology may require the developer to perform a detailed feasibility study. W.A.C. §173-157-100(1).


19-WA-g.8 – Publish Notice of the Application

After receipt of the complete Application, the Department of Ecology will instruct the developer to publish notice of the Application in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county or counties where the water is stored, diverted, and used, once a week for two weeks. The Department of Ecology will also notify the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife about the complete Application. W.R.C. § 90.03.280; W.R.C. § 90.03.370(1)(a).


19-WA-g.9 to 19-WA-g.10 – Does the Department of Ecology Approve the Application?

The Department of Ecology will review the Application and make a decision on whether to grant or deny the Reservoir Permit. The processing time for a Reservoir Permit varies pending on the location, water availability, complexity, and the number of the other applications competing for the same source of water. Washington Department of Ecology – Application for a Reservoir Permit.

Expedited Review

The Department of Ecology will expedite processing a Application for projects that:

  • ”Will not require a new water right for diversion or withdrawal of the water to be stored;
  • Are adding or changing one or more purposes of use for the stored water;
  • Are adding to the storage capacity of an existing reservoir; or
  • Are applying for the secondary permit to secure use of water stored in an existing reservoir.”

W.R.C. § 90.03.370(1)(b); W.A.C. §173-157-200(1).

A Reservoir Permit will allow the developer to fill the reservoir once annually and the permit must specifically state the period during which the water may be used to fill the reservoir. The developer must obtain an additional Reservoir Permit for any water in excess of the one reservoir filling annually. W.A.C. § 508-12-270.

19-WA-g.11 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

A developer or any interested party may appeal a decision by the Department of Ecology to issue or deny a permit to the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board within thirty (30) days of the date of receiving the notice of the decision. Washington – Wash. Rev. Code §§ 43 et seq., State Government-Executive; W.A.C. § 371-08.




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