Permit-exempt wells are private wells allowed by the State of Washington for specific, restricted uses that are exempt from the requirement of obtaining a permit for groundwater withdrawals.
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The Hirst Decision impacted the use of permit exempt wells for development and that resulted in the Washington State Legislature to pass ESSB 6091 in 2018. The new law does not directly impact existing permit exempt well users. Wells constructed in these basins in compliance with chapter 18.104 RCW are not subject to the new restrictions, limitations, and fees. This is regardless of whether the well was put to beneficial use prior to January 19, 2018.
The new law provides specific regulation for new permit-exempt domestic uses. Per our interpretation of the term “domestic use” (below), we interpret the new law to limit water use under the exemptions in RCW 90.44.050 for domestic water use and watering of a non-commercial lawn or garden. The other uses exempt from permitting (industrial use including irrigation and stockwatering) are not restricted beyond existing legal limitations under RCW 90.44.050, and, in some cases, restrictions identified in instream flow rules adopted under chapters 90.22 or 90.54 RCW.
 If a committee fails to adopt a plan by their prescribed timeline, they are to send the draft plan to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) for its review. The SFRB makes recommendations and sends them to us. We then we amend the draft plan and adopt it into rule.
More information can be obtained from the State Department of Ecology through https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-supply/Water-rights/Groundwater-permit-exemption
The District only controls the conditions under which it may extend its water service in accordance with RCW Title 57.08. CWD neither permits nor restricts permit-exempt wells.
The District has established criteria under which its service is available. If a customer chooses to connect to the District’s municipal water system, all exempt wells on the property must be decommissioned. The District (per District Administrative Code 4.08.125.C) will credit half the value of connection charges applicable to the cost of the connection to District system. If an existing customer chooses to drill an exempt well, the customer must disconnect from the District’s municipal system.
The decision to require a property owner to select the property’s source of water supply resulted from an analysis of water quality, water quantity, equity, enforcement options and environmental factors. There are generally two types of exempt wells within Covington’s service area, domestic or potable water system wells and irrigation wells. The criteria for establishing the policy of water service is based on the following:
Exempt wells are not “bad”, and in fact the option was created by the state at a time (1945) when municipal water was not available in many areas of the state.
Feel free to contact Tom Keown, General Manager at 253-867-0900 or Steve Lee, Engineering Manager at 253-867-0940.