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Water Work
Council proposes legislation

The Methow Watershed Council is moving towards becoming an independent, locally managed organization, representative of water interests in the Methow watershed, according to their recent news release.

The Council has developed proposed legislation which would allow the watershed board to continue beyond the end of the original watershed planning legislation, RCW 90.82.

The draft legislation, presented to the Okanogan County Council on Monday (Jan. 28), is a request for support in the Washington State Legislature. Later this week the Methow Watershed Council will send the draft legislation to legislators for their consideration. This effort directly addresses part of the plan developed by the original planning unit. The Watershed Plan, completed in 2005, and the Detailed Implementation Plan, completed in 2009, includes a directive for development of a self-sustaining entity that provides as much local management of the watershed as possible within state law.

Okanogan County recognized the Methow Watershed Council as an interim implementation body until a final form was adopted. This proposed legislation represents that final form. If the legislation is enacted, the Methow Watershed Council would become a ‘watershed management board’. It would assume the current activities of the Methow Watershed Council including strategic planning.

“The new organization could be funded through a wide range of sources. The reserve water, 2 cubic feet per second in each of seven reaches in the Methow watershed, will be monitored and managed. A mitigation bank would be created to help keep water rights in the Methow,” states the news release.

Members of the new organization would include the county, the largest town, the largest water user, five water rights holders from the local area, and the tribes.

“Over the last few years the Methow Watershed Council accomplished all the scientific background work necessary to pursue the top priorities.” states the news release. Those top priorities are:

  1. Preserve agricultural use
  2. Investigate and implement water storage opportunities
  3. Update the Instream Flow Rule (173-548 WAC)
  4. Track water counted against the reserve water

“The tracking system now exists, but must be updated annually and the results reported. An ongoing implementation body, such as the watershed management board that would be authorized by the proposed legislation, is needed in order to pursue these goals, and to adapt for future conditions,” the release concludes.

The news release contact is R. Lee Hatcher, P.E. at or at 509-997-0640, extension 266.


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