Chapter 173-501 WAC

This amendment will update the Chapter 173-501 WAC, Instream Resources Protection Program - Nooksack Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 1 to meet the requirements in RCW 90.94.020.

The rule amendment will update and add to water management regulations in WRIA 1 to meet the requirements in RCW 90.94.020. We will consider amending the rule to:
  • Add flexibility for projects that retime high flows for instream resource benefits.
  • Establish domestic permit-exempt groundwater withdrawal limits for new users.
  • Make minor technical corrections. 
We will develop technical findings and documentation to support rulemaking. We anticipate that supporting documentation for the rule would include: the estimated consumptive use of new domestic permit-exempt wells in the WRIA for the next 20 years, and projects and actions to offset potential impacts to instream flows associated with the permit-exempt domestic water use. The supporting documentation would include and evaluation for Net Ecological Benefit in the watershed to meet the requirements of the law.
The statute directs Ecology to begin rulemaking to meet the requirements of RCW 90.94.020 if a locally-approved watershed plan update is not adopted by Ecology by the deadline. A plan update was not submitted to Ecology for review and adoption, so Ecology is proceeding with the required rulemaking.
RCW 90.94.020 requires us to adopt rules for WRIA 1 by August 1, 2020.

Rulemaking timeline


Announcement phase (CR-101)

Filing date:
Feb. 5, 2019

Announcement documents

Rule development phase

Feb. 5, 2019 - Nov. 2019

Public input & involvement

We’ve developed preliminary draft language for the rule amendment and a rule supporting document for Chapter 173-501 WAC: We will be accepting comments Apr. 8, to May 10, 2019. The feedback we receive on the preliminary draft documents will be used as we develop a rule amendment proposal. You can share feedback via our online comment system (link) or by mail:
Online: Submit online comments about the preliminary draft rule language
Mail:        Annie Sawabini
                Department of Ecology
                Water Resources Program
                PO Box 47600
                Olympia WA  98504-7600
The preliminary draft will be discussed at three public open houses. The public open houses will be an opportunity for informal conversations about the preliminary draft. Please note, we will not be taking oral comments during these open houses.
The following public open houses have been scheduled:
Ferndale Library
2125 Main Street, Ferndale, WA 98248
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Monday, Apr. 22, 2019 
Lynden Library
216 4th Street, Lynden, WA 98264
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Monday, Apr. 22, 2019 
Ecology’s Padilla Bay Reserve
10441 Bayview Edison Rd, Mt Vernon, WA 98273
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019

If you would like to be notified when the preliminary draft language is ready please sign up for the Water Resources Program ListServ.

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