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Chapter 90.82 RCW Watershed planning (formerly water resource management)
The purpose of this chapter is to develop a more thorough and cooperative method of determining what the current water resource situation is in each water resource inventory area of the state and to provide local citizens with the maximum possible input concerning their goals and objectives for water resource management and development.
It is necessary for the legislature to establish processes and policies that will result in providing state agencies with more specific guidance to manage the water resources of the state consistent with current law and direction provided by local entities and citizens through the process established in accordance with this chapter.
[1997 c 442 § 101.]
The legislature finds that the local development of watershed plans for managing water resources and for protecting existing water rights is vital to both state and local interests. The local development of these plans serves vital local interests by placing it in the hands of people: Who have the greatest knowledge of both the resources and the aspirations of those who live and work in the watershed; and who have the greatest stake in the proper, long-term management of the resources. The development of such plans serves the state's vital interests by ensuring that the state's water resources are used wisely, by protecting existing water rights, by protecting instream flows for fish, and by providing for the economic well-being of the state's citizenry and communities. Therefore, the legislature believes it necessary for units of local government throughout the state to engage in the orderly development of these watershed plans.
[1997 c 442 § 102.]
Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.
(1) "Department" means the department of ecology.
(2) "Implementing rules" for a WRIA plan are the rules needed to give force and effect to the parts of the plan that create rights or obligations for any party including a state agency or that establish water management policy.
(3) "Minimum instream flow" means a minimum flow under chapter 90.03 or 90.22 RCW or a base flow under chapter 90.54 RCW.
(4) "WRIA" means a water resource inventory area established in chapter 173-500 WAC as it existed on January 1, 1997.
(5) "Water supply utility" means a water, combined water-sewer, irrigation, reclamation, or public utility district that provides water to persons or other water users within the district or a division or unit responsible for administering a publicly governed water supply system on behalf of a county.
(6) "WRIA plan" or "plan" means the product of the planning unit including any rules adopted in conjunction with the product of the planning unit.
[1997 c 442 § 103.]
In order to have the best possible program for appropriating and administering water use in the state, the legislature establishes the following principles and criteria to carry out the purpose and intent of chapter 442, Laws of 1997.
(1) All WRIA planning units established under this chapter shall develop a process to assure that water resource user interests and directly involved interest groups at the local level have the opportunity, in a fair and equitable manner, to give input and direction to the process.
(2) If a planning unit requests technical assistance from a state agency as part of its planning activities under this chapter and the assistance is with regard to a subject matter over which the agency has jurisdiction, the state agency shall provide the technical assistance to the planning unit.
(3) Plans developed under chapter 442, Laws of 1997 shall be consistent with and not duplicative of efforts already under way in a WRIA, including but not limited to watershed analysis conducted under state forest practices statutes and rules.
[1997 c 442 § 104.]
WRIA planning units — Watershed planning grants — Eligibility criteria — Administrative costs.
(1) Once a WRIA planning unit has been initiated under RCW 90.82.060 and a lead agency has been designated, it shall notify the department and may apply to the department for funding assistance for conducting the planning and implementation. Funds shall be provided from and to the extent of appropriations made by the legislature to the department expressly for this purpose.
(2)(a) Each planning unit that has complied with subsection (1) of this section is eligible to receive watershed planning grants in the following amounts for the first three phases of watershed planning and phase four watershed plan implementation:
(i) Initiating governments may apply for an initial organizing grant of up to fifty thousand dollars for a single WRIA or up to seventy-five thousand dollars for a multi-WRIA management area in accordance with RCW 90.82.060(4);
(ii)(A) A planning unit may apply for up to two hundred thousand dollars for each WRIA in the management area for conducting watershed assessments in accordance with RCW 90.82.070, except that a planning unit that chooses to conduct a detailed assessment or studies under (a)(ii)(B) of this subsection or whose initiating governments choose or have chosen to include an instream flow or water quality component in accordance with RCW 90.82.080 or 90.82.090 may apply for up to one hundred thousand additional dollars for each instream flow and up to one hundred thousand additional dollars for each water quality component included for each WRIA to conduct an assessment on that optional component and for each WRIA in which the assessments or studies under (a)(ii)(B) of this subsection are conducted.
(B) A planning unit may elect to apply for up to one hundred thousand additional dollars to conduct a detailed assessment of multipurpose water storage opportunities or for studies of specific multipurpose storage projects which opportunities or projects are consistent with and support the other elements of the planning unit's watershed plan developed under this chapter; and
(iii) A planning unit may apply for up to two hundred fifty thousand dollars for each WRIA in the management area for developing a watershed plan and making recommendations for actions by local, state, and federal agencies, tribes, private property owners, private organizations, and individual citizens, including a recommended list of strategies and projects that would further the purpose of the plan in accordance with RCW 90.82.060 through 90.82.100.
(b) A planning unit may request a different amount for phase two or phase three of watershed planning than is specified in (a) of this subsection, provided that the total amount of funds awarded do not exceed the maximum amount the planning unit is eligible for under (a) of this subsection. The department shall approve such an alternative allocation of funds if the planning unit identifies how the proposed alternative will meet the goals of this chapter and provides a proposed timeline for the completion of planning. However, the up to one hundred thousand additional dollars in funding for instream flow and water quality components and for water storage assessments or studies that a planning unit may apply for under (a)(ii)(A) of this subsection may be used only for those instream flow, water quality, and water storage purposes.
(c) By December 1, 2001, or within one year of initiating phase one of watershed planning, whichever occurs later, the initiating governments for each planning unit must inform the department whether they intend to have the planning unit establish or amend instream flows as part of its planning process. If they elect to have the planning unit establish or amend instream flows, the planning unit is eligible to receive one hundred thousand dollars for that purpose in accordance with (a)(ii) of this subsection. If the initiating governments for a planning unit elect not to establish or amend instream flows as part of the unit's planning process, the department shall retain one hundred thousand dollars to carry out an assessment to support establishment of instream flows and to establish such flows in accordance with RCW 90.54.020(3)(a) and chapter 90.22 RCW. The department shall not use these funds to amend an existing instream flow unless requested to do so by the initiating governments for a planning unit.
(d) In administering funds appropriated for supplemental funding for optional plan components under (a)(ii) of this subsection, the department shall give priority in granting the available funds to proposals for setting or amending instream flows.
(e) A planning unit may apply for a matching grant for phase four watershed plan implementation following approval under the provisions of RCW 90.82.130. A match of ten percent is required and may include financial contributions or in-kind goods and services directly related to coordination and oversight functions. The match can be provided by the planning unit or by the combined commitments from federal agencies, tribal governments, local governments, special districts, or other local organizations. The phase four grant may be up to one hundred thousand dollars for each planning unit for each of the first three years of implementation. At the end of the three-year period, a two-year extension may be available for up to fifty thousand dollars each year. For planning units that cover more than one WRIA, additional matching funds of up to twenty-five thousand dollars may be available for each additional WRIA per year for the first three years of implementation, and up to twelve thousand five hundred dollars per WRIA per year for each of the fourth and fifth years.
(3)(a) The department shall use the eligibility criteria in this subsection (3) instead of rules, policies, or guidelines when evaluating grant applications at each stage of the grants program.
(b) In reviewing grant applications under this subsection (3), the department shall evaluate whether:
(i) The planning unit meets all of the requirements of this chapter;
(ii) The application demonstrates a need for state planning funds to accomplish the objectives of the planning process; and
(iii) The application and supporting information evidences a readiness to proceed.
(c) In ranking grant applications submitted at each stage of the grants program, the department shall give preference to applications in the following order of priority:
(i) Applications from existing planning groups that have been in existence for at least one year;
(ii) Applications that address protection and enhancement of fish habitat in watersheds that have aquatic fish species listed or proposed to be listed as endangered or threatened under the federal endangered species act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq. and for which there is evidence of an inability to supply adequate water for population and economic growth from:
(A) First, multi-WRIA planning; and
(B) Second, single WRIA planning;
(iii) Applications that address protection and enhancement of fish habitat in watersheds or for which there is evidence of an inability to supply adequate water for population and economic growth from:
(A) First, multi-WRIA planning; and
(B) Second, single WRIA planning.
(d) Except for phase four watershed plan implementation, the department may not impose any local matching fund requirement as a condition for grant eligibility or as a preference for receiving a grant.
(4) The department may retain up to one percent of funds allocated under this section to defray administrative costs.
(5) Planning under this chapter should be completed as expeditiously as possible, with the focus being on local stakeholders cooperating to meet local needs.
(6) Funding provided under this section shall be considered a contractual obligation against the moneys appropriated for this purpose.
[2003 1st sp.s. c 4 § 2; 2001 c 237 § 2; 1998 c 247 § 1; 1997 c 442 § 105.]
Notes: Findings -- 2003 1st sp.s. c 4: "The legislature declares and reaffirms that a core principle embodied in chapter 90.82 RCW is that state agencies must work cooperatively with local citizens in a process of planning for future uses of water by giving local citizens and the governments closest to them the ability to determine the management of water in the WRIA or WRIAs being planned.
The legislature further finds that this process of local planning must have all the tools necessary to accomplish this task and that it is essential for the legislature to provide a clear statutory process for implementation so that the locally developed plan will be the adopted and implemented plan to the greatest extent possible." [2003 1st sp.s. c 4 § 1.]
Finding -- Intent -- 2001 c 237: "The legislature is committed to meeting the needs of a growing population and a healthy economy statewide; to meeting the needs of fish and healthy watersheds statewide; and to advancing these two principles together, in increments over time.
The legislature finds that improved management of the state's water resources, clarifying the authorities, requirements, and timelines for establishing instream flows, providing timely decisions on water transfers, clarifying the authority of water conservancy boards, and enhancing the flexibility of our water management system to meet both environmental and economic goals are important steps to providing a better future for our state.
The need for these improvements is particularly urgent as we are faced with drought conditions. The failure to act now will only increase the potential negative effects on both the economy and the environment, including fisheries resources.
Deliberative action over several legislative sessions and interim periods between sessions will be required to address the long-term goal of improving the responsiveness of the state water code to meet the diverse water needs of the state's citizenry. It is the intent of the legislature to begin this work now by providing tools to enable the state to respond to imminent drought conditions and other immediate problems relating to water resources management. It is also the legislature's intent to lay the groundwork for future legislation for addressing the state's long-term water problems." [2001 c 237 § 1.]
Severability -- 2001 c 237: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [2001 c 237 § 33.]
Effective date -- 2001 c 237: "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 10, 2001]." [2001 c 237 § 34.]
Intent -- 2001 c 237: See note following RCW 90.66.065.
(1) Within one year of accepting funding under RCW 90.82.040(2)(e), the planning unit must complete a detailed implementation plan. Submittal of a detailed implementation plan to the department is a condition of receiving grants for the second and all subsequent years of the phase four grant.
(2) Each implementation plan must contain strategies to provide sufficient water for: (a) Production agriculture; (b) commercial, industrial, and residential use; and (c) instream flows. Each implementation plan must contain timelines to achieve these strategies and interim milestones to measure progress.
(3) The implementation plan must clearly define coordination and oversight responsibilities; any needed interlocal agreements, rules, or ordinances; any needed state or local administrative approvals and permits that must be secured; and specific funding mechanisms.
(4) In developing the implementation plan, the planning unit must consult with other entities planning in the watershed management area and identify and seek to eliminate any activities or policies that are duplicative or inconsistent.
(5) By December 1, 2003, and by December 1st of each subsequent year, the director of the department shall report to the appropriate legislative standing committees regarding statutory changes necessary to enable state agency approval or permit decision making needed to implement a plan approved under this chapter.
[2003 1st sp.s. c 4 § 3.]
Notes: Findings -- 2003 1st sp.s. c 4: See note following RCW 90.82.040.
Implementation plan — Timelines and milestones.
(1) The timelines and interim milestones in a detailed implementation plan required by RCW 90.82.043 must address the planned future use of existing water rights for municipal water supply purposes, as defined in RCW 90.03.015, that are inchoate, including how these rights will be used to meet the projected future needs identified in the watershed plan, and how the use of these rights will be addressed when implementing instream flow strategies identified in the watershed plan.
(2) The watershed planning unit or other authorized lead agency shall ensure that holders of water rights for municipal water supply purposes not currently in use are asked to participate in defining the timelines and interim milestones to be included in the detailed implementation plan.
(3) The department of health shall annually compile a list of water system plans and plan updates to be reviewed by the department during the coming year and shall consult with the departments of community, trade, and economic development, ecology, and fish and wildlife to: (a) Identify watersheds where further coordination is needed between water system planning and local watershed planning under this chapter; and (b) develop a work plan for conducting the necessary coordination.
[2003 1st sp.s. c 5 § 9.]
Notes: Severability -- 2003 1st sp.s. c 5: See note following RCW 90.03.015.
Limitations on liability.
(1) This chapter shall not be construed as creating a new cause of action against the state or any county, city, town, water supply utility, conservation district, or planning unit.
(2) Notwithstanding RCW 4.92.090, 4.96.010, and 64.40.020, no claim for damages may be filed against the state or any county, city, town, water supply utility, tribal governments, conservation district, or planning unit that or member of a planning unit who participates in a WRIA planning unit for performing responsibilities under this chapter.
[1997 c 442 § 106.]
Initiation of watershed planning — Scope of planning — Technical assistance from state agencies.
(1) Planning conducted under this chapter must provide for a process to allow the local citizens within a WRIA or multi-WRIA area to join together in an effort to: (a) Assess the status of the water resources of their WRIA or multi-WRIA area; and (b) determine how best to manage the water resources of the WRIA or multi-WRIA area to balance the competing resource demands for that area within the parameters under RCW 90.82.120.
(2) Watershed planning under this chapter may be initiated for a WRIA only with the concurrence of: (a) All counties within the WRIA; (b) the largest city or town within the WRIA unless the WRIA does not contain a city or town; and (c) the water supply utility obtaining the largest quantity of water from the WRIA or, for a WRIA with lands within the Columbia Basin project, the water supply utility obtaining from the Columbia Basin project the largest quantity of water for the WRIA. To apply for a grant for organizing the planning unit as provided for under RCW 90.82.040(2)(a), these entities shall designate the entity that will serve as the lead agency for the planning effort and indicate how the planning unit will be staffed. For purposes of this chapter, WRIA 40 shall be divided such that the portion of the WRIA located entirely within the Stemilt and Squilchuck subbasins shall be considered WRIA 40a and the remaining portion shall be considered WRIA 40b. Planning may be conducted separately for WRIA 40a and 40b. WRIA 40a shall be eligible for one-fourth of the funding available for a single WRIA, and WRIA 40b shall be eligible for three-fourths of the funding available for a single WRIA.
(3) Watershed planning under this chapter may be initiated for a multi-WRIA area only with the concurrence of: (a) All counties within the multi-WRIA area; (b) the largest city or town in each WRIA unless the WRIA does not contain a city or town; and (c) the water supply utility obtaining the largest quantity of water in each WRIA.
(4) If entities in subsection (2) or (3) of this section decide jointly and unanimously to proceed, they shall invite all tribes with reservation lands within the management area.
(5) The entities in subsection (2) or (3) of this section, including the tribes if they affirmatively accept the invitation, constitute the initiating governments for the purposes of this section.
(6) The organizing grant shall be used to organize the planning unit and to determine the scope of the planning to be conducted. In determining the scope of the planning activities, consideration shall be given to all existing plans and related planning activities. The scope of planning must include water quantity elements as provided in RCW 90.82.070, and may include water quality elements as contained in RCW 90.82.090, habitat elements as contained in RCW 90.82.100, and instream flow elements as contained in RCW 90.82.080. The initiating governments shall work with state government, other local governments within the management area, and affected tribal governments, in developing a planning process. The initiating governments may hold public meetings as deemed necessary to develop a proposed scope of work and a proposed composition of the planning unit. In developing a proposed composition of the planning unit, the initiating governments shall provide for representation of a wide range of water resource interests.
(7) Each state agency with regulatory or other interests in the WRIA or multi-WRIA area to be planned shall assist the local citizens in the planning effort to the greatest extent practicable, recognizing any fiscal limitations. In providing such technical assistance and to facilitate representation on the planning unit, state agencies may organize and agree upon their representation on the planning unit. Such technical assistance must only be at the request of and to the extent desired by the planning unit conducting such planning. The number of state agency representatives on the planning unit shall be determined by the initiating governments in consultation with the governor's office.
(8) As used in this section, "lead agency" means the entity that coordinates staff support of its own or of other local governments and receives grants for developing a watershed plan.
[2003 c 328 § 1; 2001 c 229 § 1; 1998 c 247 § 2.]
Water quantity component.
Watershed planning under this chapter shall address water quantity in the management area by undertaking an assessment of water supply and use in the management area and developing strategies for future use.
(1) The assessment shall include:
(a) An estimate of the surface and ground water present in the management area;
(b) An estimate of the surface and ground water available in the management area, taking into account seasonal and other variations;
(c) An estimate of the water in the management area represented by claims in the water rights claims registry, water use permits, certificated rights, existing minimum instream flow rules, federally reserved rights, and any other rights to water;
(d) An estimate of the surface and ground water actually being used in the management area;
(e) An estimate of the water needed in the future for use in the management area;
(f) An identification of the location of areas where aquifers are known to recharge surface bodies of water and areas known to provide for the recharge of aquifers from the surface; and
(g) An estimate of the surface and ground water available for further appropriation, taking into account the minimum instream flows adopted by rule or to be adopted by rule under this chapter for streams in the management area including the data necessary to evaluate necessary flows for fish.
(2) Strategies for increasing water supplies in the management area, which may include, but are not limited to, increasing water supplies through water conservation, water reuse, the use of reclaimed water, voluntary water transfers, aquifer recharge and recovery, additional water allocations, or additional water storage and water storage enhancements. The objective of these strategies is to supply water in sufficient quantities to satisfy the minimum instream flows for fish and to provide water for future out-of-stream uses for water identified in subsection (1)(e) and (g) of this section and to ensure that adequate water supplies are available for agriculture, energy production, and population and economic growth under the requirements of the state's growth management act, chapter 36.70A RCW. These strategies, in and of themselves, shall not be construed to confer new water rights. The watershed plan must address the strategies required under this subsection.
(3) The assessment may include the identification of potential site locations for water storage projects. The potential site locations may be for either large or small projects and cover the full range of possible alternatives. The possible alternatives include off-channel storage, underground storage, the enlargement or enhancement of existing storage, and on-channel storage.
[2001 2nd sp.s. c 19 § 2; 1998 c 247 § 3.]
Notes: Intent -- 2001 2nd sp.s. c 19: "The legislature recognizes the potential for additional water storage as a solution to the water supply needs of the state. Last year the legislature created a task force to examine the role of increased water storage in providing water supplies to meet the needs of fish, population growth, and economic development, and to enhance the protection of people's lives and their property and the protection of aquatic habitat through flood control facilities. One solution discussed by the task force to address the state's water supply problem is to store water when there is excess runoff and stream flow, and deliver or release it during the low flow period when it is needed. The task force discussed the need for assessments of potential site locations for water storage projects. The legislature intends this act to assist in obtaining the assessments relating to water storage." [2001 2nd sp.s. c 19 § 1.]
Instream flow component — Rules — Report.
(1)(a) If the initiating governments choose, by majority vote, to include an instream flow component, it shall be accomplished in the following manner:
(i) If minimum instream flows have already been adopted by rule for a stream within the management area, unless the members of the local governments and tribes on the planning unit by a recorded unanimous vote request the department to modify those flows, the minimum instream flows shall not be modified under this chapter. If the members of local governments and tribes request the planning unit to modify instream flows and unanimous approval of the decision to modify such flow is not achieved, then the instream flows shall not be modified under this section;
(ii) If minimum stream flows have not been adopted by rule for a stream within the management area, setting the minimum instream flows shall be a collaborative effort between the department and members of the planning unit. The department must attempt to achieve consensus and approval among the members of the planning unit regarding the minimum flows to be adopted by the department. Approval is achieved if all government members and tribes that have been invited and accepted on the planning unit present for a recorded vote unanimously vote to support the proposed minimum instream flows, and all nongovernmental members of the planning unit present for the recorded vote, by a majority, vote to support the proposed minimum instream flows.
(b) The department shall undertake rule making to adopt flows under (a) of this subsection. The department may adopt the rules either by the regular rules adoption process provided in chapter 34.05 RCW, the expedited rules adoption process as set forth in RCW 34.05.353, or through a rules adoption process that uses public hearings and notice provided by the county legislative authority to the greatest extent possible. Such rules do not constitute significant legislative rules as defined in RCW 34.05.328, and do not require the preparation of small business economic impact statements.
(c) If approval is not achieved within four years of the date the planning unit first receives funds from the department for conducting watershed assessments under RCW 90.82.040, the department may promptly initiate rule making under chapter 34.05 RCW to establish flows for those streams and shall have two additional years to establish the instream flows for those streams for which approval is not achieved.
(2)(a) Notwithstanding RCW 90.03.345, minimum instream flows set under this section for rivers or streams that do not have existing minimum instream flow levels set by rule of the department shall have a priority date of two years after funding is first received from the department under RCW 90.82.040, unless determined otherwise by a unanimous vote of the members of the planning unit but in no instance may it be later than the effective date of the rule adopting such flow.
(b) Any increase to an existing minimum instream flow set by rule of the department shall have a priority date of two years after funding is first received for planning in the WRIA or multi-WRIA area from the department under RCW 90.82.040 and the priority date of the portion of the minimum instream flow previously established by rule shall retain its priority date as established under RCW 90.03.345.
(c) Any existing minimum instream flow set by rule of the department that is reduced shall retain its original date of priority as established by RCW 90.03.345 for the revised amount of the minimum instream flow level.
(3) Before setting minimum instream flows under this section, the department shall engage in government-to-government consultation with affected tribes in the management area regarding the setting of such flows.
(4) Nothing in this chapter either: (a) Affects the department's authority to establish flow requirements or other conditions under RCW 90.48.260 or the federal clean water act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1251 et seq.) for the licensing or relicensing of a hydroelectric power project under the federal power act (16 U.S.C. Sec. 791 et seq.); or (b) affects or impairs existing instream flow requirements and other conditions in a current license for a hydroelectric power project licensed under the federal power act.
(5) If the planning unit is unable to obtain unanimity under subsection (1) of this section, the department may adopt rules setting such flows.
(6) The department shall report annually to the appropriate legislative standing committees on the progress of instream flows being set under this chapter, as well as progress toward setting instream flows in those watersheds not being planned under this chapter. The report shall be made by December 1, 2003, and by December 1st of each subsequent year.
[2003 1st sp.s. c 4 § 4; 1998 c 247 § 4.]
Notes: Findings -- 2003 1st sp.s. c 4: See note following RCW 90.82.040.
Instream flows — Assessing and setting or amending.
By October 1, 2001, the department of ecology shall complete a final nonproject environmental impact statement that evaluates stream flows to meet the alternative goals of maintaining, preserving, or enhancing instream resources and the technically defensible methodologies for determining these stream flows. Planning units and state agencies assessing and setting or amending instream flows must, as a minimum, consider the goals and methodologies addressed in the nonproject environmental impact statement. A planning unit or state agency may assess, set, or amend instream flows in a manner that varies from the final nonproject environmental impact statement if consistent with applicable instream flow laws.
[2001 c 237 § 3.]
Notes: Finding -- Intent -- Severability -- Effective date -- 2001 c 237: See notes following RCW 90.82.040.
Intent -- 2001 c 237: See note following RCW 90.66.065.
Water quality component.
If the initiating governments choose to include a water quality component, the watershed plan shall include the following elements:
(1) An examination based on existing studies conducted by federal, state, and local agencies of the degree to which legally established water quality standards are being met in the management area;
(2) An examination based on existing studies conducted by federal, state, and local agencies of the causes of water quality violations in the management area, including an examination of information regarding pollutants, point and nonpoint sources of pollution, and pollution-carrying capacities of water bodies in the management area. The analysis shall take into account seasonal stream flow or level variations, natural events, and pollution from natural sources that occurs independent of human activities;
(3) An examination of the legally established characteristic uses of each of the nonmarine bodies of water in the management area;
(4) An examination of any total maximum daily load established for nonmarine bodies of water in the management area, unless a total maximum daily load process has begun in the management area as of the date the watershed planning process is initiated under RCW 90.82.060;
(5) An examination of existing data related to the impact of fresh water on marine water quality;
(6) A recommended approach for implementing the total maximum daily load established for achieving compliance with water quality standards for the nonmarine bodies of water in the management area, unless a total maximum daily load process has begun in the management area as of the date the watershed planning process is initiated under RCW 90.82.060; and
(7) Recommended means of monitoring by appropriate government agencies whether actions taken to implement the approach to bring about improvements in water quality are sufficient to achieve compliance with water quality standards.
This chapter does not obligate the state to undertake analysis or to develop strategies required under the federal clean water act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1251 et seq.). This chapter does not authorize any planning unit, lead agency, or local government to adopt water quality standards or total maximum daily loads under the federal clean water act.
[1998 c 247 § 5.]
If the initiating governments choose to include a habitat component, the watershed plan shall be coordinated or developed to protect or enhance fish habitat in the management area. Such planning must rely on existing laws, rules, or ordinances created for the purpose of protecting, restoring, or enhancing fish habitat, including the shoreline management act, chapter 90.58 RCW, the growth management act, chapter 36.70A RCW, and the forest practices act, chapter 76.09 RCW. Planning established under this section shall be integrated with strategies developed under other processes to respond to potential and actual listings of salmon and other fish species as being threatened or endangered under the federal endangered species act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq. Where habitat restoration activities are being developed under chapter 246, Laws of 1998, such activities shall be relied on as the primary nonregulatory habitat component for fish habitat under this chapter.
[1998 c 247 § 6.]
Identification of projects and activities.
The planning unit shall review historical data such as fish runs, weather patterns, land use patterns, seasonal flows, and geographic characteristics of the management area, and also review the planning, projects, and activities that have already been completed regarding natural resource management or enhancement in the management area and the products or status of those that have been initiated but not completed for such management in the management area, and incorporate their products as appropriate so as not to duplicate the work already performed or underway.
The planning group is encouraged to identify projects and activities that are likely to serve both short-term and long-term management goals and that warrant immediate financial assistance from the state, federal, or local government. If there are multiple projects, the planning group shall give consideration to ranking projects that have the greatest benefit and schedule those projects that should be implemented first.
[1998 c 247 § 7.]
(1) Watershed planning developed and approved under this chapter shall not contain provisions that: (a) Are in conflict with existing state statutes, federal laws, or tribal treaty rights; (b) impair or diminish in any manner an existing water right evidenced by a claim filed in the water rights claims registry established under chapter 90.14 RCW or a water right certificate or permit; (c) require a modification in the basic operations of a federal reclamation project with a water right the priority date of which is before June 11, 1998, or alter in any manner whatsoever the quantity of water available under the water right for the reclamation project, whether the project has or has not been completed before June 11, 1998; (d) affect or interfere with an ongoing general adjudication of water rights; (e) modify or require the modification of any waste discharge permit issued under chapter 90.48 RCW; (f) modify or require the modification of activities or actions taken or intended to be taken under a habitat restoration work schedule developed under chapter 246, Laws of 1998; or (g) modify or require the modification of activities or actions taken to protect or enhance fish habitat if the activities or actions are: (i) Part of an approved habitat conservation plan and an incidental take permit, an incidental take statement, a management or recovery plan, or other cooperative or conservation agreement entered into with a federal or state fish and wildlife protection agency under its statutory authority for fish and wildlife protection that addresses the affected habitat; or (ii) part of a water quality program adopted by an irrigation district under chapter 87.03 RCW or a board of joint control under chapter 87.80 RCW. This subsection (1)(g) applies as long as the activities or actions continue to be taken in accordance with the plan, agreement, permit, or statement. Any assessment conducted under RCW 90.82.070, 90.82.090, or 90.82.100 shall take into consideration such activities and actions and those taken under the forest practices rules, including watershed analysis adopted under the forest practices act, chapter 76.09 RCW.
(2) Watershed planning developed and approved under this chapter shall not change existing local ordinances or existing state rules or permits, but may contain recommendations for changing such ordinances or rules.
(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, watershed planning shall take into account forest practices rules under the forest practices act, chapter 76.09 RCW, and shall not create any obligations or restrictions on forest practices additional to or inconsistent with the forest practices act and its implementing rules, whether watershed planning is approved by the counties or the department.
[1998 c 247 § 8.]
Plan approval — Public notice and hearing — Revisions.
(1)(a) Upon completing its proposed watershed plan, the planning unit may approve the proposal by consensus of all of the members of the planning unit or by consensus among the members of the planning unit appointed to represent units of government and a majority vote of the nongovernmental members of the planning unit.
(b) If the proposal is approved by the planning unit, the unit shall submit the proposal to the counties with territory within the management area. If the planning unit has received funding beyond the initial organizing grant under RCW 90.82.040, such a proposal approved by the planning unit shall be submitted to the counties within four years of the date that funds beyond the initial funding are first drawn upon by the planning unit.
(c) If the watershed plan is not approved by the planning unit, the planning unit may submit the components of the plan for which agreement is achieved using the procedure under (a) of this subsection, or the planning unit may terminate the planning process.
(2)(a) With the exception of a county legislative authority that chooses to opt out of watershed planning as provided in (c) of this subsection, the legislative authority of each of the counties with territory in the management area shall provide public notice of and conduct at least one public hearing on the proposed watershed plan submitted under this section. After the public hearings, the legislative authorities of these counties shall convene in joint session to consider the proposal. The counties may approve or reject the proposed watershed plan for the management area, but may not amend it. Approval of such a proposal shall be made by a majority vote of the members of each of the counties with territory in the management area.
(b) If a proposed watershed plan is not approved, it shall be returned to the planning unit with recommendations for revisions. Approval of such a revised proposal by the planning unit and the counties shall be made in the same manner provided for the original watershed plan. If approval of the revised plan is not achieved, the process shall terminate.
(c) A county legislative authority may choose to opt out of watershed planning under this chapter and the public hearing processes under (a) and (b) of this subsection if the county's affected territory within a particular management area is: (i) Less than five percent of the total territory within the management area; or (ii) five percent or more of the total territory within the management area and all other initiating governments within the management area consent. A county meeting these conditions and choosing to opt out shall notify the department and the other initiating governments of that choice prior to commencement of plan adoption under the provisions of (a) of this subsection. A county choosing to opt out under the provisions of this section shall not be bound by obligations contained in the watershed plan adopted for that management area under this chapter. Even if a county chooses to opt out under the provisions of this section, the other counties within a management area may adopt a proposed watershed plan as provided in this chapter.
(3) The planning unit shall not add an element to its watershed plan that creates an obligation unless each of the governments to be obligated has at least one representative on the planning unit and the respective members appointed to represent those governments agree to adding the element that creates the obligation. A member's agreeing to add an element shall be evidenced by a recorded vote of all members of the planning unit in which the members record support for adding the element. If the watershed plan is approved under subsections (1) and (2) of this section and the plan creates obligations: (a) For agencies of state government, the agencies shall adopt by rule the obligations of both state and county governments and rules implementing the state obligations, or, with the consent of the planning unit, may adopt policies, procedures, or agreements related to the obligations or implementation of the obligations in addition to or in lieu of rules. The obligations on state agencies are binding upon adoption of the obligations, and the agencies shall take other actions to fulfill their obligations as soon as possible, and should annually review implementation needs with respect to budget and staffing; (b) for counties, the obligations are binding on the counties and the counties shall adopt any necessary implementing ordinances and take other actions to fulfill their obligations as soon as possible, and should annually review implementation needs with respect to budget and staffing; or (c) for an organization voluntarily accepting an obligation, the organization must adopt policies, procedures, agreements, rules, or ordinances to implement the plan, and should annually review implementation needs with respect to budget and staffing.
(4) After a plan is adopted in accordance with subsection (3) of this section, and if the department participated in the planning process, the plan shall be deemed to satisfy the watershed planning authority of the department with respect to the components included under the provisions of RCW 90.82.070 through 90.82.100 for the watershed or watersheds included in the plan. The department shall use the plan as the framework for making future water resource decisions for the planned watershed or watersheds. Additionally, the department shall rely upon the plan as a primary consideration in determining the public interest related to such decisions.
(5) Once a WRIA plan has been approved under subsection (2) of this section for a watershed, the department may develop and adopt modifications to the plan or obligations imposed by the plan only through a form of negotiated rule making that uses the same processes that applied in that watershed for developing the plan.
(6) As used in this section, "obligation" means any action required as a result of this chapter that imposes upon a tribal government, county government, or state government, either: A fiscal impact; a redeployment of resources; or a change of existing policy.
[2003 1st sp.s. c 4 § 5; 2001 c 237 § 4; 1998 c 247 § 9.]
Notes: Findings -- 2003 1st sp.s. c 4: See note following RCW 90.82.040.
Finding -- Intent -- Severability--Effective date -- 2001 c 237: See notes following RCW 90.82.040.
Intent -- 2001 c 237: See note following RCW 90.66.065.
Use of monitoring recommendations in RCW 77.85.210.
In conducting assessments and other studies that include monitoring components or recommendations, the department and planning units shall implement the monitoring recommendations developed under *RCW 77.85.210.
[2001 c 298 § 2.]
Notes: *Reviser's note: RCW 77.85.210 was repealed by 2005 c 309 § 10.
Finding -- Intent -- 2001 c 298: "The legislature finds that a comprehensive program of monitoring is fundamental to making sound public policy and programmatic decisions regarding salmon recovery and watershed health. Monitoring provides accountability for results of management actions and provides the data upon which an adaptive management framework can lead to improvement of strategies and programs. Monitoring is also a required element of any salmon recovery plan submitted to the federal government for approval. While numerous agencies and citizen organizations are engaged in monitoring a wide range of salmon recovery and watershed health parameters, there is a greater need for coordination of monitoring efforts, for using limited monitoring resources to obtain information most useful for achieving relevant local, state, and federal requirements regarding watershed health and salmon recovery, and for making the information more accessible to those agencies and organizations implementing watershed health programs and projects. Regarding salmon recovery monitoring, the state independent science panel has concluded that many programs already monitor indicators relevant to salmonids, but the efforts are largely uncoordinated or unlinked among programs, have different objectives, use different indicators, lack support for sharing data, and lack shared statistical designs to address specific issues raised by listing of salmonid species under the federal endangered species act. (continued)
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