More about in-stream flow rule

Ecology tasked with apportioning

water to people, farms and fish

The in-stream rule will provide water during the river's low-flow period by creating an exchange mechanism where new users pay a one-time fee toward mitigating their use.

The fee may go toward:

_ Dungeness high-flow withdrawal and storage.

_ Aquifer recharge projects using reuse and other collected water

_ Conservation projects to ensure less is used

_ Buying existing water rights for


_ Any other type of mitigation or conservation effort

Who will be affected

by the rule and how

Those affected by the rule include landowners without a water right, those with undeveloped land who have an unused well and larger water suppliers such as the Public Utility District.

New regulations and impacts could include:

_ A requirement to hook up to larger water systems, if possible.

_ The need to mitigate for water used during seasonal river closures.

_ A mandate of all new wells to go deeper than the shallow aquifer, if possible.

_ Metering new wells to track water use, not to create monthly rates.

_ Allowing homeowners to collect rain water.

Why have a rule at all?

Ecology explains

Why have a rule? Ecology planners explain why the rule is being formed, the intent of the rule and its geography by stating:

_ With growth, existing water rights are threatened by overallocation.

_ The state requires that streams receive water rights before new rights are issued.

_ Most of the water in the basin is "legally spoken for."

_ Local streams have chronic low flows in late summer and early fall.

_ Threatened species require certain flows for spawning.

_ New water rights will be available through a new allocation framework.

Opponents' objections

and Ecology's answers

The main objections and issues raised by the public at the Feb. 18 meeting and Ecology's responses include:

Critics: The mitigation fees on new water rights will drive up development costs.

Ecology: An economic study to review impacts will be completed soon.

Critics: Increasing the cost of a home puts housing outside the reach of many people.

Ecology: The amount of a mitigation fee has not been determined.

Critics: The river has had the same flows for years, so more users pose no problem.

Ecology: Conservation effort and agreements to reduce irrigation caused less water to be drawn amid rapid development.

Critics: The lack of evidence connecting well withdrawal to low river flows.

Ecology: Scientific evidence is available in the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan.

Critics: Limits on new water could hinder small-scale agricultural potential in the basin.

Ecology: Irrigation water will continue to be available; the mitigation system will allow for different types of uses.

Critics: The term "beneficial use" causes landowners with unused wells to go through an exchange system when others with wells in use are grandfathered in.

Ecology: Although exempt from the water-permitting process, well withdrawals still are subject to all other state water laws, including the proposed rule.

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