Public Comment Form

Advisory Group Meeting 2: Transparency in Water Right Sales and Out-of-Basin Transfers

There has been growing interest about the purchase, sale, and transfer of water rights in Washington. We are convening an advisory group to discuss these topics through a series of meetings this spring and summer. Their input will inform our findings and recommendations that we will present to the Legislature this fall.

We recognize that some people may want to submit written comments to discussion questions, either in substitution or augmentation of discussion in the meetings. We invite you to do so here.

Please note that this comment form is for the purpose of submitting a comment to the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Any information (e.g., personal or contact) you provide on this comment form or in an attachment may be publicly disclosed and posted on the Internet.

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Comments are due by July 31, 2020.

1.      We have heard concerns that out-of-basin transfers:
a.      Negatively impact the social and economic wellbeing of communities;
b.      Prohibit communities from ever getting the water back; and
c.      Can be used by outside actors to profit from water rights.
Please discuss your specific concerns about out-of-basin transfers and explain what is driving them. If out-of-basin transfers don’t concern you, why not?

2.      Most out-of-basin transfers benefit instream resources. Does this benefit outweigh some of the potential social costs?

3.      The only public notification of a water right sale occurs with the application to change or transfer the water right. Is this a sufficient level of public notice? What would we gain by having more transparency? What would we lose? Is there a benefit to added transparency if the standard for review does not consider that information (under current statute, there is only a review for impairment)?

4.      Though water is a public resource, the right to use water is privately-held. Should the State regulate the sale of water rights when they occur apart from the land? For example, should we restrict out-of-state entities from buying Washington water rights and putting them in the Trust Water Rights Program? Why or why not?
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