Water Capturing Bill Has Hearing

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on HB 2584 to alter laws related to rainwater capturing. The bill would exempt catchment systems of up to 5,000 gallons from water permitting and water right permitting. For larger systems, the Department of Ecology would develop rules for where and how such systems could be implemented.

The AIA/WA testified in support of the bill, but also cited several concerns with the bill.

We agree that rainwater and stormwater capturing should be exempt from water right permitting and most systems should be exempt from regulation by the Department of Ecology (DOE). In general, water catchments systems positively contribute to the environment and water quality and should be encouraged.

However, the exemption threshold is too low to be effective for even the most basic residential catchment systems. There are concerns that Ecology move swiftly to complete rulemaking to authorize new, larger systems. It would be better to provide a blanket exemption for systems in statute and then require DOE to develop rules on reporting requirements.

Also, the bill has a provision that would apply the new rules retroactively to systems already in place. Existing systems should be grandfathered into the law so property owners don’t face the prospect of having expensive retrofits or even having to remove the catchment system.

You can watch the hearing or download the audio MP3 file from www.tvw.org.

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