Know Your Source: Exploring Hydrogeology’s Role in Water Rights Transfers

Check out the January issue of The Water Report, where Aspect’s Associate Hydrogeologist Tyson Carlson explains the key role hydrogeologic evaluation plays in successful water rights transfers. The article revolves around the “same source” concept and how understanding the hydrogeologic system of a site will help you manage risk, expand transfer options, and bring more certainty to regulatory approval.

Read the article here.

This article is reprinted with permission from The Water Report. A review copy of The Water Report is available to anyone, upon request, at

Examples of Same Source Part of a Common Flow Regime

Examples of Same Source Part of a Common Flow Regime

Tim Flynn Presenting on Adapting Water Supplies After One of Biggest Dam Removals in US History

Aspect’s Principal Hydrogeologist Tim Flynn will be presenting on adapting water supplies post-Condit Dam removal on January 26 at the ACEC Oregon’s ACEC/SW WA Public Agency Liaison meeting. Aspect has been helping the City of White Salmon for over a decade to improve municipal water supplies. Tim will discuss the progression of water rights affecting the Dam and the City; the ongoing development of source alternatives to reduce demand on local surface waters; and the use of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) to reduce surface water diversions during critical low flow periods. Learn more and register here.

Dave Cook Helping Future Professionals Build Great Resumes on January 10

Aspect’s Principal Geologist Dave Cook will man the “Resume Review” station at the University of Washington’s College of Engineering Career Fair Prep Night on January 10. Dave will be giving out free advice to hopeful future professionals on what to do and, most importantly, what not to do when engineering an inviting resume for the working world. Learn more HERE.

Meet Na Hyung Choi and Allan Covell

Aspect is excited to welcome Na Hyung Choi and Allan Covell! Staff Geologist Na Hyung recently completed her MS in Geology at Oregon State University. Her graduate work focused on geomorphology and structural geology of faulted alluvial fan complexes through field assessments, remote sensing, and numerical modeling.  She joins Aspect's Bainbridge office, where she has been busy with steep slope reconnaissance and subsurface investigations for our geotechnical group. Alan joins Aspect's Yakima office as an engineering designer. Allan brings over 15 years of experience as an engineering drafter/designer and will be engaged in water resources, geotechnical, and environmental projects at Aspect. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Na Hyung Choi

1.    Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 
I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and spent my childhood there, but I did most of my schooling in Georgia (the state). Then I moved to Corvallis, Oregon, for graduate school and lived there for 3 years before moving to Washington to join Aspect.

2.    What inspired you to pursue geology? What made you curious about it? 
I am a little bit surprised how things turned out. I remember from middle school the disdain I felt toward my younger brother’s mineral collection because it seemed so nerdy! But gradually I became aware of my appreciation for the outdoors and my enjoyment for learning why things look and act like they do. When I learned that a geology degree at the University of Georgia required a 6-week field course in Colorado, I was sold. Also, being in the South, I liked how I could delve into topics like evolution, climate change, and resource exploration that many found/find controversial. 

3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 
I like being able to picture the processes that formed a landscape when I look around, and I can’t imagine exploring the world any other way now. At work, I enjoy applying my geological background to urgent questions by putting my foot on the ground and probing what’s around and underneath. I like seeing concrete reasons and results of my work, and it’s exciting to be able to say, “Hey, I helped build that!” or “Hey, I helped make this house a safer place to live!” I thrive when I’m constantly learning new things, and I’m very happy to be doing just that every day at Aspect.

4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
I love to cook. I read cookbooks for fun, watch a lot of cooking videos, and sometimes fantasize about taking a week off just to try a bunch of recipes. I love being in the mountains and try to go hiking every weekend. I also enjoy trying to rock climb, playing violin, visiting the local animal shelter to pet cats (and dogs), and goofing off with my partner, Phillip.

5.    Where in the world would you like to travel next? 
I’ve been wanting to visit Japan for a long time, largely for their food.

Allan Covell

1.    Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 
I’m born and raised in the Yakima Valley, currently living in Selah. I’ve lived in the Tri-Cities, Ellensburg, Spokane, and Puyallup, but have always felt more at home in Yakima area. I like being near the mountains and sagebrush, surrounded by all the orchards, vineyards, and hops. It makes all the seasons very distinct and beautiful.

2.    What inspired you to pursue Engineering? What made you curious about it? 
My father is a Civil Engineer, so I was exposed to his type of work from an early age. He would take me to his office and various construction projects that he was working on. I was curious about it because I like to know how things were designed and built. I especially liked looking at drawings and maps.

3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?
’ve always liked drawing, and CAD software means I can do it faster and better than I used to by hand way back in high school and at my first job. Since Autodesk has been improving Civil3D, drawing cool things in 3D has gotten a lot easier and more accurate. I’m excited to see where this software is headed over the next few years.

4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I enjoy spending time with my family, especially watching my kids learn and play sports. I also do some running (road and trail) when I have time and play coed volleyball on a city league team.

5.    Where in the world would you like to travel next? 
I’d love to go back to Cancun, Mexico for a second honeymoon. It’s been over 15 years since I was there and I’d like to see if my memory matches reality. Plus, I’d love to bring my kids along so they can experience a foreign country (Canada doesn’t count), some high humidity heat, and gorgeous white sand beaches.

The Story of Washington State's Water Future

Aspect Consulting partnered with Washington State University, the University of Utah, and Ecology’s Office of Columbia River to develop the 2016 Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast.  From climate change to crop change, from municipal growth to hydropower demand, from water banking to declining groundwater, this report tells the story of how Washington is changing in response to a myriad of physical, economic, and legal challenges facing the State.  Over 2 years in the making, the report represents a comprehensive look at where Washington is going in the next 20 years and beyond.

Aspect Welcomes Our New Stormwater Team and Services for Municipal Clients!

Aspect is thrilled to announce our hiring of a municipal water quality services team, formed by 11 new staff, highly regarded for stormwater engineering, planning, and monitoring solutions for public agencies across the Pacific Northwest and the Western US.

In bringing aboard the  new members—seven stormwater and surface water quality scientists led by Senior Associate Environmental Scientist Curtis Nickerson and four stormwater planning and engineering experts led by Principal Water Resources Engineer John Knutson—Aspect broadens its existing stormwater engineering and planning for industrial clients to offer a wider range of stormwater services to municipal clients.

Aspect’s stormwater practice lead, Owen Reese, explains, “This is a natural addition to our existing expertise in industrial stormwater management, born of the recognition that municipalities constantly face the challenge of efficiently maintaining compliance with increasingly complex stormwater regulations. Curtis and John’s teams are experts in doing all of this, with a long history of providing strategic advice to cities, counties, and public agencies.” 

Joining Aspect’s Seattle office, Senior Associate Environmental Scientist Curtis Nickerson leads a group recognized by clients and technical peers as industry leaders in stormwater and surface water monitoring and evaluation, with a background serving clients such as the Port of Seattle, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Seattle Public Utilities, City of Puyallup, and King and Snohomish Counties. Curtis’ team includes Associate Water Resources Scientist Heidi Wachter, Senior Hydrologists James Packman and Bryan Berkompas, Project Environmental Scientist Brad Kwasnowski, Staff Water Resources Specialist Rebecca Powell, and Staff Water Resources Engineer Brian Hite. This group has over 10 years of experience working together and specialize in storm response monitoring, programmatic National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit compliance, and using statistical approaches to help clients determine best practices for cleaning and maintaining drainage systems.

“Aspect is a great fit for our team. As water quality regulations become more mature, we’re seeing public agencies tasked with being more flexible and strategic in how they monitor and communicate the data. Aspect’s existing data management and technology group advances our monitoring team’s ability to communicate, analyze, and manage water quality results. This will help us deliver even better water quality programs for clients,” Curtis said.

Aspect’s new stormwater engineering team in Yakima is led by Principal Water Resources Engineer John Knutson, with his longtime staff of Senior Water Resources Scientist/Hydrologist Bill Rice, Project Water Resources Engineer Erik Pruneda, and Senior Staff Water Resources Technician Will Guyton.  John’s team has particular expertise in municipal stormwater planning, utility development, compliance training, and design, including extensive low impact development (LID) experience. They also provide a wide range of Underground Injection Control (UIC) compliance and design services, along with stream restoration and floodplain management. John and his team has worked for clients such as the Cities of Ellensburg, Kennewick, Pullman, Moscow, Spokane, and Tumwater; Asotin, Kittitas, Grant, Stevens, and Yakima Counties; and WSDOT. 

John notes that, “Local stormwater programs are always evolving in response to regulatory changes. Our role is to help communities comply while ensuring programs are efficient, effective, and tailored to their unique issues and needs. We excel in this arena, and are excited to help Aspect become one of the few truly full service stormwater firms in the Northwest.”  

With the addition of these new team members, Aspect’s stormwater group builds upon its established practice with an expanded capacity to provide services for industrial and municipal clients, including:

  • Comprehensive planning;
  • Stormwater utility formation;
  • NPDES Phase I/II and UIC compliance program development and implementation support;
  • Development of standards and design manuals;
  • System inventory and mapping; storm response monitoring and water quality evaluations;
  • Stormwater BMP effectiveness assessments;
  • Hydrologic and hydraulic modeling;
  • Data collection for hydrologic and water quality model calibration/validation;
  • Data quality management system development;
  • CIP development;
  • Design of both conventional and LID BMPs; and
  • Programmatic NPDES compliance assessments and strategy development.

Aspect also provides a wide array of flood and floodplain management services, including flood mitigation planning, modeling, design, and streamflow measurement and instrumentation.

Aspect Presenting on Topics Ranging from Hydrology and Water Rights to Water Supply and Demand Projections at Water Rights Transfers Seminar

Aspect’s Dan Haller and Tyson Carlson will be presenting at The Seminar Group’s 9th annual Water Rights Transfers seminar. On November 9th, Tyson will be presenting during the Hydrology And Water Rights portion of the seminar. He will be discussing approaches used to determine same body of public groundwater; groundwater – surface water continuity; potential impairment and water availability; and mitigation suitability.

The next day, Dan will join a panel to discuss the 2016 Water Supply and Demand Forecast. The group will present on the new supply/demand projections through 2035; water banking inventory; and economic evaluation on how the cost of water is affecting water supply development.

Learn more about the seminar HERE.

Aspect’s Dan Haller to Talk Water Rights at the 2016 Grape and Wine Issues Caucus

Continuing Aspect’s long tradition of supporting wine grape growers in Eastern Washington, on November 9th, Aspect’s Dan Haller will explain what you need to know to navigate water policy – acquiring, changing, and protecting water rights. This 2016 Grape and Wine Issues Caucus is coordinated in partnership with the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and the Washington Wine Institute and will be held at the Yakima Convention Center in Yakima, WA.  Dan's discussion will include:

  • Water rights 101:  how they are created and who has them
  • How to acquire new rights or change existing rights
  • Changing crops and spreading to add new acres
  • Adding wells via changes or Showings of Compliance
  • Protecting water rights from relinquishment
  • How state and local water banking works

Learn more about the caucus HERE. View Full Agenda. 

The Need for Water Banking

A recent Washington State Supreme Court ruling has changed how counties review permit-exempt (household) wells for building permits under the Growth Management Act. This ruling states that counties cannot approve new development using permit-exempt wells if there would be impairment to instream flows or impact to closed water bodies. The Yakima Herald-Republic looks at how the recent Supreme Court ruling affects water rights in Kittitas County.  Aspect’s Dan Haller is quoted on how water banks are currently in place and can work beyond the Yakima Basin. You can read the article here.

Source: SOFIA JARAMILLO/Yakima Herald-Republic

Source: SOFIA JARAMILLO/Yakima Herald-Republic

Aspect President, Tim Flynn, to Guest Lecture at Seattle University Law School

Aspect President, Tim Flynn, has been invited by Michael O’Connell, former partner at Stoel Rives LLP and Adjunct Professor at Seattle University, to guest lecture at Seattle University’s Water Law course this November. Tim is excited to share what he’s learned in the decades of providing water rights and aquifer storage and recovery services to clients throughout Washington’s diverse landscapes.

Dave Cook Speaking on Environmental Ethics at Seattle University on November 7

Principal Geologist Dave Cook will be speaking about environmental ethics to an engineering class at Seattle University on November 7. Dave will cover how to understand an environmental professional’s role when project and land use decisions will ultimately affect others. He’ll cover scenarios that come up during environmental project work that don’t always have a blueprint for how to handle, such as:

  • Dealing with landslide risk – how to notify someone to leave their home?
  • If, how, and when to respond to public and media comments critical of ongoing project work.
  • What dictates when, how and why to report a contaminant release - it isn't always a clear cut case.

He’ll also cover current events including the South Dakota pipeline and Flint Michigan water crisis.

Aspect Moderating and Presenting at AWRA Annual Conference October 26

The Washington Chapter of the American Water Resources Association’s (AWRA) annual state conference takes place on October 26 with the theme of “Rural Domestic and Municipal Water Supply. Associate hydrogeologist and AWRA Board member Tyson Carlson will be moderating this year’s “Lightning Talks.” At one of those talks, project hydrogeologist Andrew Austreng will discuss the City of Othello’s recent work on aquifer storage and recovery (ASR).  

Learn more here.

Dog Days

After a day of back-to-back-to-back planning meetings, 12 hours of checking monitoring wells in pouring rain, driving 200 miles to and from a project site, or cranking out the last section of a 100-page report, Aspect staffers are often in need of a friendly face. Luckily, we are backed by a devoted group of canine consultants that advise us on all things comforting, charming, and cute. Our four-legged friends are fuzzy therapy in the field, office, and at home. Below are stories of some of the dogs, both living and living on in our memories, who never fail to put a smile on our faces.


There is hardly a day you will find me at the office without Frodo, who has been coming with me to work since we rescued him at five weeks old in January 2015, and essentially grew up in the Bainbridge office. On the rare occasion that I walk into the office without him, I often get bombarded with concerned people wondering what’s wrong, where he is, and why he’s not with me. Thanks to Frodo, my office is often a pit stop for people on their way to get lunch, grab a piece of candy, or simply when they need a little stress reliever or a smile. Even when things get a little stressful in my corner of the office, it’s nothing a short walk or potty break outside with him can’t fix. In addition to that he has helped me form relationships with a lot of Aspect employees I am now lucky enough to call my friends. Maybe I’m biased, but Frodo feels like such a part of the Bainbridge office I honestly can’t imagine the day without him!

- Meghan Lawson Project Assistant


Stella is a good companion and always enjoys keeping me company. When I see her lying about, she always reminds me to stay relaxed.

- Eric Marhofer, Senior Remediation Engineer


Carbon doesn’t spend much time in the Wenatchee office – mostly because she’s a fieldwork dog! The Wenatchee office typically has to cover a lot of ground every week so Carbon and I do a lot of traveling together to serve the greater Central and Eastern Washington areas. Sometimes, Carbon just comes along to keep me company during overnight sampling adventures or on routine maintenance trips to far reaching weather stations. Other times, she bounces along in the pickup bed and waits patiently as I inspect various bits of infrastructure on a local farm or orchard. Wenatchee is a small town and Carbon has been my most surprising means to building strong client relationships. I’ve accidentally been introduced to more than one client through Carbon befriending their dogs at the dog park or through a local sheep herding event. Now I just have to teach her to start writing reports!

-  Taylor Dayton, Staff Water Resources Engineer


Banjoboy isn’t a big fan of the office. Too much work and not enough cuddles. He’s much happier out in Horse Heaven Hills. He likes guarding the driver’s seat while I run a pumping test. It’s an exhausting job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

- Aaron Pruitt, Project Hydrogeologist


My first baby, Kassi dog passed away recently at 14 ½ years old.  My husband, JB, and I picked her up from an animal shelter in Shelton, WA in April 2002.  As the runt of her litter, she had escaped and was picked up wondering the streets.  Kassi was a tough little runt, but had separation anxiety.  We learned pretty quickly that we could not leave her at home as she destroyed everything: crates, carpet, flooring, and walls.  She was trying to get out and be with her pack, not destroy just because she was mad.  So began the take your dog everywhere routine.  Luckily, she enjoyed being in the car and never damaged it.  Kassi enjoyed going to construction sites with me and Neah Bay with JB (photos attached).  She was very smart and brought us loads of happiness.  Seeing a dog with their owner, always brings a smile to my face. 

- Ali Dennison, Senior Project Geologist


This is my dog Augie. He is a Corgi and Aussie Shepherd mix, known as an “Augi” mix. He runs a hard bargain negotiating for food from my daughter at her play table. Like most corgis he sleeps on his back like a human. He lives by the corgi mantra “I don’t always bark, but when I do its usually at nothing”. For that reason, he doesn’t come to the office.

- Nick Szot, Senior Project Geotechnical Engineer


In loving memory of Hunter, who we lost recently. This picture was taken just after a snuggle session with my youngest daughter. 

- Eric Knoedler, Staff Hydrogeologist


I've only brought Cosmo to work a couple of times maybe 7 or 8 years ago due to the travel logistics but it was really fun when I did because I could show him off. After all, he is the best dog in the world! Cosmo lives to go on adventures.  We run in the Vashon forest every Saturday, whenever I can. He trained with me for a marathon and many other endurance events including distance swims. These days as he is slowing down, he likes to go fishing with me as shown on the attached pictures.

- Henry Haselton, Principal Geotechnical Engineer


Bamboo, best supporting actor (faux service dog category). He hovers close to Lori just in case she might benefit from giving him a few pets.

- Doug Hillman, Principal Hydrogeologist


I love bringing Cooper to work!  Plus, Cooper loves coming to work as some of his favorite people work at Aspect…not to mention his fondness for cleaning up the crumbs from under people’s desks.  Having a dog in the work place tends to bring down stress levels and gives you a great excuse to get up from your desk and take a walk outside.

- Kirsi Longley, Senior Project Environmental Scientist


Office dogs help to provide a connection with my colleagues. My dogs encourage me to get up and walk away from my desk to get more face-to-face time with coworkers. Their silly antics also give a refreshing perspective (as you can see in the picture of Myka taking a crazy nap!) for not only me but my fellow coworkers. This has proven crucial on many occasions, most importantly when we have stressful and busy deadlines! Time with my dogs helps me keep perspective on work-life balance. I’m ever grateful for the opportunities that sharing my dogs with my colleagues has opened up for me. They’ve helped me find myself in conversations that lead to especially interesting and challenging project work, and keep folks coming back to me for collaboration.   

- Robyn Pepin, GIS Analyst


Tesla has only come in with me once so far, but I think she had a good time.  She loves people and attention, and is the best lap warmer ever.

- Lea Beard, Senior Staff Data Scientist


Hank is the strangest and most loyal dog I’ve known. He’s somehow both fearless and completely neurotic, and an escape artist who is too smart for his own good. His favorite activities are clearly snuggling and tug of war, but he’s also been known to enjoy rock climbing, jumping fences, standing completely still and staring at the wall for long periods of time, and impersonating Chewbacca. All around, he’s a pretty awesome mutt!  

-  Seann McClure, Project Hydrogeologist


He's a sweetheart to a fault.  He's the only dog I know who shares his toys, treats, and even his food.

- Michael Totin, Network/Systems Administrator


Piper is a 9-year-old German Wirehaired Pointer.  She loves tennis balls, chasing squirrels, swimming, and being pet on the head. Sometimes she is lucky enough to come to the office with me, which is great for her because there are a lot of people who will pet her cute, shaggy head. I like having her in the office because she reminds me to get up from my desk every once in a while and take a walk. And because I get a lot more visitors to my office when she is here…everyone loves Piper!

- Carla Brock, Associate Geologist


Miles is part lab/part horse making him a tough fit for the office life. Combine that with the fact that my colleague always whips him into a frenzy and he doesn’t get to visit the office very much…but that’s okay, he has some fun two-legged buddies at home to keep him busy.

- Andrew Holmson, Senior Geotechnical Engineer


Artie is a yellow lab with a characteristically friendly disposition.  He loves going outside and is a great rock climbing partner with his impressive ability to scale steep surfaces.  Although he generally wants to be friends with everyone, he has a hilarious fear of small dogs andcats. 

- Bracken Capen, Senior Staff Engineer

Get to Know Dave Cook

Aspect is excited to welcome Principal Geologist Dave Cook, a seasoned environmental leader with focused expertise in urban brownfields redevelopment, site acquisition, remedial cost estimation, cleanup, and environmental strategy. Here are five questions we asked to get to know him better. 

  1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here?   I grew up in Wooster, Ohio.  Wooster is a small 20,000-person town (near Akron) between the urban diversity of Cleveland and very rural Amish farming country.  Growing up I had the benefit of a tight, small-town community, playing soccer against eastern European clubs in Cleveland, or experiencing Amish horse and buggies rolling through our town.  I went to undergrad at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, received a degree in geology and played collegiate soccer.  I then went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona where I received a M.S. in geology.  Growing up I had visited about 40 States.  The only states I hadn’t been too after grad school were the Pacific NW, so I had to come.  Obviously, I couldn’t (and can’t) leave.   
  2. What inspired you to pursue geology? What made you curious about it?  Three things:  My dad sold trucks to oil field services and drilling companies that happened to make Wooster a home base for Appalachian basin oil exploration/development.  We had a family friend who was a geology professor at the local college (The College of Wooster).  And my dad and I did a Grand Canyon raft trip after my freshman year in college.  That sealed the deal (it also got me to NAU for grad school where I ended up completing my masters research in the Canyon; studying the 800-milion-year-old Walcott Member of the Chuar Group – about 60 miles down-river from Lee’s Ferry).
  3.  What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?  Meeting and solving client problems in innovative/creative ways.  Applying new solutions and technologies to old problems.  I believe that an earth scientist has much to offer the world.  We are unique, and although we’ve always been needed, today, with climate change and extreme “earth events” society needs us to be confident, direct, factual and simple in how we describe complex three dimensional systems.
  4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?  Playing pickup soccer, following the Seattle Sounders, hiking, running, bike riding, traveling, volunteering with Engineers Without Borders-USA (  EWB-USA is a 15,000-person volunteer organization composed on engineers, scientists, health professionals, and educators.  I’ve served in many roles in the organization from Seattle Professional Chapter President, to UW-EWB professional mentor for water projects in Bolivia, to Board of Directors, to 2016 national Board President.  It’s an honor to serve with my EWB-USA colleagues.  Come see me if you are interested in getting involved.
  5. What five people would be your dream dinner party guests?
  • Elon Musk – for his innovative, break the norm – won’t-take-no entrepreneurial attitude
  • John Wesley Powell – my geology hero.  Explorer/discoverer of the Colorado River system and the Grand Canyon (he did this research with one arm – a civil war musket ball took one of his arms).
  • Richard Branson – Another entrepreneur with vision, branding and marketing chops; plus he seems to have a good heart and soul.
  • Bonnie Dunbar – Space shuttle astronaut.  I got to meet and work with her when she was the Executive Director of the Museum of Flight.  Amazing scientist/engineer who grew up on a ranch in Eastern Washington.  She’s got the small town roots with a whole-earth perspective.
  • Barack Obama – I campaigned for him in Ohio in 2008.  He’s cool under pressure, smart, sophisticated, and takes a long view of success.

Landmark Hirst Water Rights Decision Increases Burden on Counties to Evaluate Exempt Well Impacts

In a landmark decision on the use of exempt wells and county responsibility for evaluating impacts from the wells on instream flows, the Washington Supreme Court (Court) recently overturned a lower court decision in the Whatcom County v. Hirst case.  The lower court decision appealed in this case essentially directed local governments to follow the Washington Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) interpretation of instream flow rules in determining water availability. This Court decision rescinds that direction, noting that the Growth Management Act (GMA) places an independent responsibility to ensure water availability on counties, not on Ecology.  The decision also noted that the fact that county provisions are wholly consistent with Ecology’s regulations does not, by itself, render them consistent with GMA requirements.

The Ruling Constrains Exempt Well Use in Washington

Under existing law (RCW 90.44.050), the groundwater permit exemption allows, for a limited number of purposes, water users to construct and develop groundwater wells for small quantities of groundwater without obtaining a permit.  According to the new ruling, there is no question that a permit-exempt well may not infringe on an earlier established right to water, including instream flow rules, under the doctrine of prior appropriation.  The Court also found it contradictory that Ecology must consider the effect of groundwater appropriations on minimum flows when issuing water right permits, while counties did not consider these same impacts when issuing building permits with exempt wells.  This means that in a basin with adopted minimum instream flows, any new exempt well or exempt well drilled after adoption of flows may be subject to interruption when flows are not met, rendering these wells legally unreliable as a continuous domestic water source.

The Ruling Increases County Responsibility for Water Availability Determinations under GMA

In addition, this ruling imposes a strict standard for county review of cumulative impairment from exempt wells due to rural development.  Aspect has been working with Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille Counties to establish a water bank for the Little Spokane River watershed.  A water bank is a mechanism that facilitates transfer of water rights between sellers and buyers through use of the state’s trust water right program, using banked water as mitigation for new water uses. The three counties anticipated that use of unmitigated exempt wells would continue to be more restricted in the state and proceeded with water bank development to proactively address this concern, along with addressing other future water needs in the basin. The recent ruling in Whatcom County v. Hirst only increases the need for local jurisdictions to be directly involved with proactive water resource management.

Dave Cook Speaks and Moderates at GBA, Urban Land Institute, and IEEE Humanitarian Events

Aspect’s principal geologist, Dave Cook, is participating in several urban energy and humanitarian events this week in Seattle.

On Wednesday October 12th in Seattle, Dave moderates a panel of local experts discussing sharing energy sources between facilities and throughout communities. The discussion is sponsored by the Urban Land Institute of which Dave is a member.  The panel discussion is titled, “District Energy, What’s stopping us from sharing in the sharing economy?” will seek to answer the questions, “What is keeping us from sharing and conserving energy, reducing carbon footprints, and revolutionizing how we pay to heat, cool, and power our downtown core and neighborhoods?” Learn more about the presentation HERE.

On Saturday October 15th in Seattle, Dave will be at the Geoprofessional Business Associations’ Fall Conference in Seattle. As the 2016 Board President of the 15,000-person volunteer organization Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA), he will discuss how EWB-USA responded to recovery efforts after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes, and how geoprofessionals can contribute their skills at EWB-USA. Learn more HERE.

Later on that Saturday, Dave will be the Keynote Speaker at IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Seattle again discussing the importance of EWB-USA’s work and how professionals can engage in the humanitarian world. Learn more HERE.

Aspect's Andrew Holmson Presenting at APWA's Fall Conference

Aspect’s Andrew Holmson will be presenting at the American Public Works Association’s (APWA) fall conference in Spokane on Thursday, October 6. He and City of Port Angeles Engineering Manager Kathryn Neal will present Protect and Innovate: Port Angeles Landfill Stabilization – the story of how the City and a large, multidisciplinary team relocated 400,000 cubic yards of refuse away from a 140-foot bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca while building Washington’s tallest reinforced soil slope.

Aspect has provided geotechnical engineering, hydrogeology, and environmental support to the City’s closed landfill facility since 2007. We led the engineering geology team in determining long-term and short-term shoreline and bluff retreat rates, evaluating options for removal of existing shoreline protection structures, extending or modifying the structures, evaluating bluff slope failure mechanisms and slope stabilization options, landfill cell relocation, and fill slope stabilization and design. Work on the slope was completed ealier this year. Aspect continues to support the City with operation and maintenance of the landfill gas system and have provided environmental monitoring and support to meet regulatory reporting requirements.

Learn more about the APWA’s fall conference here and read more on Aspect’s efforts on the landfill here.

Meet Jessica Smith!

Aspect is excited to welcome Jessica Smith, LG to our team. Jessica is a Senior Geologist supporting Aspect’s Environmental group out of our Seattle office. She is a proven environmental project manager with experience leading complex, high-profile, multi-disciplined projects for both private and public sector clients including the Amazon Headquarters Multi-City Block Redevelopment and the Washington State Convention Center Addition. Jessica has developed an expertise in due diligence, site assessment, and remediation of upland urban brownfield redevelopment sites. Here are five questions we asked to get to know her better:

1. Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? I was born in Littleton, Colorado and moved to the Pacific Northwest when I was 8. I grew up in Bellingham but also lived near Salt Lake City for a few years in junior high and high school. After college my husband and I moved to the Redmond area and have been here ever since. I have lived in the PNW for the majority of my life and consider it home!

2. What inspired you to pursue geology? What made you curious about it? I started college as an English major with an emphasis on technical and creative writing. Spring quarter of my sophomore year I took a Geology 101 course for a general science credit and really enjoyed it.  My professor talked me into taking a Geology field course that summer in California, which I absolutely loved. When I got back from the trip I immediately changed my major, signed up for all the math and science I hadn’t taken, enrolled in summer school to not fall behind and graduated (on time!) with a Geology degree!

3. What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? I enjoy working on challenging, fast paced and team-focused projects. I love the satisfaction that comes from working with my colleagues, clients, contractors, regulators and other consultants to solve problems and reach our end goals. I am also a visual person and get satisfaction from presenting technical data in a graphic way that is easy to understand.

4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working? When I’m not working I’m usually hanging out with my husband, our two kids, Caden (7) and Clara (4) and our black lab, Porter (9).  We love to travel, hike, camp, and on sunny PNW days you can almost always find us boating on Lake Sammamish.

5. Where in the world would you like to travel next? I love to travel and, since my husband is a pilot, get to do it quite a bit! I’m looking forward to someday exploring Italy and Greece, relaxing on the beaches in Thailand and heading back to Ireland and Scotland!