Come by and see us this week at the Washington Association of Sewer & Water Districts (WASWD) Fall Conference this week (September 25 through 27) in Pasco, Washington. On Thursday afternoon, Burt Clothier will be co-presenting a talk with DOE about water right processing, including the new Certified Water Rights Examiner (CWRE) program.
From the conference program:
3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Ecology Tools to Improve Water Rights Processing
Victoria Leuba, WA State Department of Ecology
Burt Clothier, Robinson Noble
The WA ST DOE has established several programs to enhance the processing of water rights requests. The cost-reimbursement program has been in place for many years and gives water rights applicants the opportunity to hire private consultants from an Ecology-approved list to perform the majority of the processing before Ecology renders a decision. This can greatly shorten the time necessary to complete an application or change request. At the other end of the process, Ecology has just established a certified water rights examiner (CWRE) program. Here, Ecology registers private groundwater professionals to perform the proof-of-appropriation examination needed by a water rights permit holder wishing to finalize their water right into a full certificate. Both programs will be discussed in a joint presentation by water rights professionals.
South Puget Sound diversion dam (Photo credit: Burt Clothier)
Back in February, we posted about the Washington State Department of Ecology’s upcoming Certified Water Rights Examiner (CWRE) program. Designed to help water rights holders streamline the process of moving a water right permit to certificate status, the program is now active. Following the initial round of examinations in late May and early June, Ecology has published a list of certified examiners here.
Robinson Noble has two CWREs on staff: Burt Clothier, LHG, in our Tacoma office and Max Wills, LHG, in our Woodinville office. Our services now support water users through all phases of the water rights process from application, source development, and mitigation analysis through permit approval and proof of appropriation certification by a CWRE.
Central WA surface water diversion gate (Photo credit: Mike Brady)
As directed by the Washington State legislature, the Department of Ecology has established a new program to speed the processing of water rights by certifying qualified professionals as Certified Water Rights Examiners (CWRE). Under this program, a CWRE will accomplish the final site inspection and review required to move a water right permit to certificate status, a function previously completed by Ecology staff.
Ecology finalized its rule making process in November 2011, creating Chapter 173-165 WAC, as authorized by the new law RCW 90.03.655. The program is expected to begin in 2013 after the first round of CWRE examinations have been completed (likely in the spring). Ecology’s news release provides an overview of the program and additional information is available on Ecology’s website.
In short, the program will work like this: When a water right application is approved, Ecology issues a permit with a timeline for the user to put the full appropriation to use. Once the user determines that their use fully meets the limits of the permit, they apply to Ecology to move the permit to certificate status by submitting a Proof of Appropriation form. This proof request must be confirmed through a field visit and examination before the certificate can be issued. The permit holder will hire a CWRE, have them complete the final examination process, and submit their findings to Ecology. Ecology will then issue the certificate based on those findings.
From our perspective as one of Ecology’s approved cost-reimbursement contractors, we view the CWRE program as a useful expansion of the cooperation between Ecology and the private sector. Robinson Noble will have CWREs on staff and will offer these services as soon as Ecology’s examination process is completed. Our services will then support water users from start to finish in a water rights process, from application, through permit approval, and ending with proof of appropriation certification by a CWRE.