Water Supply and Building Permits
Obtaining a building permit anywhere* in Spokane County requires a Determination of Legal Availability of Water. This is to ensure a new groundwater withdrawal (typically a water well for personal domestic and landscaping use) does not impair adjacent groundwater users.
An additional requirement -- called a mitigation certificate -- is also needed if the well location is either (1) over the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer or, (2) in the Little Spokane River watershed also known as WRIA 55.
The three (3) scenarios are:
WRIA 55 - Little Spokane River Watershed
(1) Stream Flow Mitigation Certificate AND
(2) Determination of Legal Availability of Water, both obtained from Spokane County
All Other Watersheds
(1) Determination of Legal Availability of Water from Spokane County
Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) Aquifer
Parcels over the SVRP aquifer are unique in that the determination of legal availability and related paperwork is managed solely by the Department of Ecology. Contact the Eastern Regional Office in Spokane at (509) 329-3400 for assistance.
Determination of Legal Availability of Water (DOLA)
Spokane County considers water to be legally available if you can use water from a particular location and not impair a water user that began using water before you (senior water user). Senior water users include people with water rights, people using permit exempt wells, and instream flows established by the State. In 2016, the Washington Supreme Court issued a ruling (the Hirst Decision) that requires Counties to determine if water is legally available before issuing a building permit for a building that requires a water supply.
A "DOLA" application process has been developed in Spokane County for people desiring a building permit. It is a separate application from the WRIA 55 Stream Flow Mitigation application. The Determination of Legal Availability is also separate from the building permit and can be received up to one year in advance of receiving the building permit.
On this application, you'll choose from the options below. The first three (3) -- Existing Water Right/Permit, Cistern, and Established Domestic Use -- stand alone and do not require a Stream Flow Mitigation Certificate.
Existing Water Right Certificate or Permit
An applicant has a water right permit or certificate that authorizes year around domestic use and the place of use identified on the water right includes the project location. In these situations Spokane County coordinates with the Department of Ecology.
An applicant will use a cistern (holding tank) that meets the requirements of the Spokane Regional Health District. Water must be obtained from a public water supplier.
Established Domestic Use
An applicant will be using a well that was in use for a domestic purpose prior to October 26, 2016 on the same parcel that the new building will be on. Learn more about Established Domestic Use.
Wells Meeting Setback Requirements
If a well for a new use is at an adequate distance from wells of existing users then they will not impair the existing user. Learn more about Setback Requirements and Building Permits.
Stream Flow Mitigation (WRIA 55)
In watersheds where instream flow regulations have been established by the state a new use can only be allowed if that new use is mitigated. Mitigation means the new use will be offset by increasing stream flow in some manner, such as retiring and existing water right. The new user must demonstrate (through an online application process) that they will not impact stream flows (mitigation certificate) and existing groundwater users (setback requirement). When you successfully complete the application process, a copy of your WRIA 55 mitigation certificate will accompany the DOLA application described above.
More information and online application for WRIA 55 Stream Flow Mitigation.
More information on Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) Stream Flow Mitigation.