07/26/2005: "Water Rights Fees Increased.. Because..?"
It may take years -if ever- to receive a water right from the State of Washington, but the fees to apply for one have been increased. So why now, and what is the need for the additional revenue if the program has not changed? The explanation can be found in where the extra money is to go. 80% of the money will go not to the folks that process the applications, but will be transferred to the state general fund. The other 20% will be used to set up a tracking system for those applications that will now cost more. Only 4% of the fees will actually be used to process the applications. If this additional 4% will result in a speeding up issuing rights is not known.
According to a press release from the Department of Ecology, the existing application fees have not changed for 50 years. They have now been increased as follows:
Changes to the fee structure include:
* Water-right certificates, from $5 to $50.
* Recording the assignment of a water-right permit to another party,
from $5 to $50.
* Applications for new water rights and water-storage projects, from a
minimum of $10 to a minimum of $50. (The fee for a new water right will be
$1 per one-hundredth cubic foot per second (cfs). The fee for new storage
projects will be $2 per acre-foot of storage, up to a maximum of $25,000 for
new large water-use and water-storage projects.)
* Transferring, changing or amending an existing water-right
certificate, permit or claim or, from a minimum of $10 to a minimum of $50.
The fee will be assessed at 50 cents per one-hundredth cfs of water, to a
maximum of $12,500.
* Changing an existing water-storage project, from a minimum of $10 to
a minimum of $50. The assessment will be $1 for each acre-foot of water, to
a maximum of $12,500.
* Extending the amount of time to grow into a water right or to
complete a water-right change or transfer, from $5 a year to $50 for each
* Temporary or seasonal water-right changes, from $10 to $50.
* A new $50 filing fee to amend an existing water-right claim.
* Filing and recording a formal protest against a water-right or
water-storage application, from $2 to $50. There is no fee required to
submit a comment about an application.
* Inspection fees for non-hydropower dams and reservoirs are based on
the actual cost of inspection, including expenses. The minimum fee for
examining plans for projects that store 10 or more acre-feet of water is at
least $10, or a fee equal to the actual cost of examination.
There also are a number of exemptions with the fee structure. No fees are
* Applications for emergency withdrawal authorizations or for
temporary drought-related water-right changes where a drought emergency is
* Donating or acquiring a water right for a water trust that benefits
stream flows or has other public benefits.
* Applications for water-right changes filed with a water conservancy
board or for Ecology's review of a conservancy board's decision.
* Water-right acquisition, storage or change requests filed by a party
under a cost-reimbursement agreement entered into under state law.
* Storage projects or reservoirs that are less than 10 years old
provided Ecology has already examined and approved the construction plans.
For high-hazard dams that are older than 10 years but less than 20 years and
had plans approved by the department, Ecology cannot charge an inspection
fee more than that for a significant-hazard dam.
"The old water-right fees were so far behind the times, they covered less
than 1 percent of the department's costs for processing the applications,"
said Ken Slattery, who oversees Ecology's water-resources program. "While
the new fees still don't come close to covering the true cost of processing
water-right and storage applications, we at least will stop losing money by
cashing very small checks."
None of the fees are refundable.