The Washington Department of Ecology has issued a $10,000 penalty to Stevens Land Holdings, LLC, for continuing to irrigate 100 acres of alfalfa in Grant County without a permit.
“Unpermitted water use in this area threatens groundwater supplies that are already committed to legal water right holders,” said Jaime Short, water resources section manager for Ecology’s Eastern Region. “Stevens Land Holdings, LLC’s unpermitted irrigation comes after many offers of technical assistance and orders to stop the violation.”
In summer 2022, Ecology discovered that 100 acres of alfalfa were potentially being irrigated without a permit by Stevens Land Holdings, a limited liability company which lists William Stevens as governor in state records. At that time, a representative for the company acknowledged the irrigation was occurring without authorization and committed to find a legal water supply for the 2023 irrigation season.
Stevens Land Holdings, LLC again began irrigating the same 100 acres of alfalfa in the spring of 2023 without a legal water supply. In April 2023, Ecology issued a cease-and-desist order requiring the business to stop irrigation. Continued irrigation occurred and Ecology issued a $4,000 penalty in mid-May. The penalty was paid, but the water use continued unabated.
The amount of the current $10,000 penalty was based on a combination of the violation and the repeated, continued water use after being notified by Ecology of the unpermitted irrigation.
“The state and federal government have spent millions of dollars to help groundwater users transition to surface water,” Short said. “Actions like these put continued public investment at risk.”
Stevens Land Holdings, LLC has 30 days to pay the fine or appeal the decision to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.