2020 Legislative priorities

Our role

During Washington's legislative session, we have the opportunity to propose legislation that will help us continue to meet our mission. We evaluate and prioritize environmental issues facing the state and use our strategic priorities and budget requests to guide our proposed legislation. Check this page or follow us on Twitter @ecologywa and search #waleg to get the latest news on our legislative proposals.

Water banking

Water banks are a tool to facilitate voluntary exchange of water rights from one use to another in areas of limited supply. They play an important role in water management and it is vital that they operate to preserve water and natural resources, support public health, and the state’s economic well-being. Our proposed bill will:

  • Make administrative improvements to increase transparency when water banks are developed.

  • Create a transparent process for evaluating water bank proposals that ensures they serve their intended purposes.

  • Convene a stakeholder group to further examine these complicated issues, develop policy recommendations, and report back to the Legislature in November 2020.


House Bill 2603 is sponsored by Rep. Springer and Senate Bill 6494 is sponsored by Sen. Rolfes. Both the House and Senate policy committees passed substitute versions of the bill. The substitutes are now under consideration by the House and Senate Rules Committees. However, Feb. 19 was the deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin. 

To read the bill language, visit the:

Why it matters Contact

Drought preparedness and response

Modernizing Washington’s drought statutes is important to effectively prepare for and respond to drought emergencies. This bill will:

  • Create tools and resources that help build long-term drought resiliency among water users and communities throughout the state.
  • Improve the state’s ability to effectively respond to drought emergencies, including establishing an advisory-type status in advance of drought conditions.
  • Codify many of the best practices identified in the updated 2018 Washington State Drought Contingency Plan.  

House Bill 1622, sponsored by Rep. Blake, has passed out of the House with bipartisan support. It is now under consideration by the Senate. The Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks committee voted the bill out of committee. The next step is a public hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

To read the bill language, visit the:

Why it matters Contact

Antifouling boat paint

A 2018 law bans copper-based antifouling paints for recreational boats beginning in 2021. The law also directed Ecology to review alternatives to copper-based antifouling paints and develop recommendations for the Legislature.

In the summer of 2019, we completed this report, but found there are still significant unanswered questions about existing alternatives to copper-based paints.

Because of these concerns, we're requesting that the Legislature:

  • Delay the ban on copper-based paints to Jan. 1, 2026, to allow more time to study the issue.
  • Give Ecology the authority to require paint manufacturers to disclose information on the chemical ingredients in their products.
  • Ban paints containing a specific alternative antifouling ingredient, Cybutryne (sold under the brand name Irgarol 1051), which we found poses a serious threat of environmental harm.

Senate Bill 6210 is sponsored by Sen. Lovelett and was passed unanimously by the Senate. House Bill 2385 is sponsored by Rep. Chapman and had a public hearing in the House Committee on Environment & Energy.

To read the bill language, visit the:

Why it matters Contact