Rural Water Supply

Many homes and small businesses in rural areas are located too far away from pubic water supplies to receive water service and, therefore, rely on onsite wells for a water supply. Those onsite wells have a unique status within the Washington Water Code. In Washington, water is allocated through a permitting process. However, in 1945 when the groundwater code was enacted, the Washington Legislature did not want to burden the state or landowners with a permit for what was considered a small withdrawal associated with a home or small business. To allow for unpermitted use of small amounts of water there is an exemption to the permitting process in state law (RCW 90.44).

The place of “permit exempt wells” within the state’s water management framework has been the focus of increased scrutiny culminating in the “Hirst Decision” in 2016 and passage of ESSB 6091 on January 19, 2018. Spokane County along with other stakeholders are beginning a more deliberate process to plan for rural water supply.

Rural water supply planning is specifically related to building permit relying on permit exempt wells, and two (2) Spokane County programs implemented by the Water Resources Section of Environmental Services:  (1) The Little Spokane Water Bank and (2) The WRIA 55 Watershed Plan Update.

Little Spokane River Water Bank
This page explains Stream Flow Mitigation Certificates and how to purchase one, if desired.  A comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions can be linked to from this page as well.

WRIA 55 Watershed Plan Update
Find information about renewed watershed planning in WRIA 55 resulting from the passage of ESSB 6091 (now RCW 90.94) on this page.  Meeting agendas, minutes and progress will be posted here or on linked pages.

Building Permits and Water Supply
An overview page about the impact of RCW 90.94 on building permits in WRIA 55.