Public comment period begins today on proposed water management rule for the Dungeness


OLYMPIA – The public can submit comments beginning today on a proposed water management rule for the Dungeness watershed.

If adopted, the new rule drafted by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will protect existing water supplies for current uses and fish habitat and make it easier for local governments to affirm that water is legally available for future water uses. The new rule will bring certainty to the process of obtaining water for new uses in a basin where a growing population and limited water availability have prevented Ecology from permitting new water rights since the 1990s.

A new water management rule for the Dungeness has been recommended by the Local Leaders Water Management Group, which has been working with Ecology since February 2011 to identify water supply issues in the watershed and recommend solutions. Members of the LLWG (their acronym) include Clallam County, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, city of Sequim, the Sequim-Dungeness Water Users Association, and Ecology.

“The draft water management rule for the Dungeness basin is an excellent example of what collaboration and cooperation between state government and the local community can achieve in protecting our water resources,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “This rule if adopted will ensure that the water needs of local residents as well as growth and economic development and fish habitat are met into the future.”

The proposed rule would:

  • Establish instream flow levels (a water right for the stream) in the Dungeness to protect fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Establish reserves of water for future indoor domestic use.
  • Allow water storage projects.
  • Require mitigation for all new use of water, including permit-exempt wells.
  • Require measuring of new water use.
  • Close surface water to new withdrawals with the exception of seasonal water from the Dungeness.

The new rule will not affect:

  • Existing water rights at the time the rule becomes effective (tentatively in the fall of 2012), including continued use of permit-exempt wells where regular beneficial use began previously.
  • Tribal or federal reserved rights to water.

An economic Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) has been completed for the proposed rule which has been filed with the state code reviser. Over 20 years, the analysis shows the projected benefits of adopting the new rule exceeding the costs.

The proposed water management rule for the Dungeness is available online. Visitors to the Website can get directions on submitting comments electronically on the rule, submitting comments by e-mail or by mailing comments to Ecology. Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. July 9, 2012. Ecology expects adoption of the rule no earlier than August 31, 2012.

An open house and public hearing on the proposed rule is scheduled Thursday, June 28, 2012, at the Guy Cole Center in Carrie Blake Park, 202 North Blake Ave. in Sequim, WA.

  • Open house beginning at 5 p.m.
  • Presentation with a question and answer session at 6 p.m. followed by a public hearing.

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Media Contacts:

  • Dan Partridge, 360-407-7139 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 360-407-7139 end_of_the_skype_highlighting; dpar461@ecy.wa.gov
  • Linda Kent, 360-407-6239 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 360-407-6239 end_of_the_skype_highlighting; linda.kent@ecy.wa.gov

Ecology’s Dungeness Water Management website (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/instream-flows/dungeness.html)

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