The $82 Million Icicle Creek Subbasin Watershed Plan Hits a Milestone

This Seattle Times article provides an in-depth look at the complex mix of aging alpine dams, world-renowned wilderness area, and the potential of changing climate patterns in the Icicle Creek Subbasin. The spotlight’s on this North Central Washington region as the 6+ year Icicle Creek Subbasin strategy hit a recent milestone with the release of the project’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

Since 2012, Aspect has been the facilitation and technical lead for this effort, serving a broad working group of city and county agencies, tribes, fisheries, irrigators, and the community. The overall program is designed to improve instream flows, assist in agricultural sustainability, and provide for local domestic growth beyond the year 2050 at an investment of $82 million over the next 10 years.

Dan Haller Presents to the Water Mitigation Task Force

Aspect is routinely involved in helping inform State policy makers on implications of existing and proposed legislation. Our staff track and comment on existing legislation, help our clients propose new legislation, and interact with State agencies as they propose and shape new water policy. Aspect’s Dan Haller was asked in the summer of 2018 to provide a presentation on mitigation projects and mitigation sequencing to the Washington State Joint Legislative “Water Mitigation Task Force”. This Task Force is charged with evaluating how the law could be changed to adopt mitigation standards for water projects where water-for-water cannot be supplied for a project in-time and in-place. Often the “in-time” component of mitigation is the most challenging element as supply and demand are hard to match perfectly.

Dan speaks about several mitigation projects Aspect staff have worked on in recent years, including:

  • Town of Twisp / Methow Valley Irrigation District, which paired an irrigation project rehabilitation with water banking to offset growth in the Town for the next 20 years.

  • Lake Roosevelt Drawdown, which re-operates Grand Coulee Dam by 1 foot making that supply available for agricultural reliability, instream flow, and municipal use.

  • Kittitas County Consumptive Use Pilot, which seeks to clarify the exact nature and magnitude of indoor domestic use.

  • Chelan County Alluvial Storage Pilot, which seeks to engineer natural storage log jams to retime water from spring to summer.

Check out the video of Dan’s presentation below.

Learn about Washington Water Law

Aspect’s water law expert, Dan Haller, will be presenting on Water Banking for Agricultural Water Supplies at the 27th Annual Water Law in Washington conference (June 14-15). This year’s conference focuses on major legislative changes, new case law, and important practical information for water rights and resource management in the State of Washington.

Next Step in Icicle Creek Basin Solution – June 27 Public Hearing in Leavenworth

Taking the next step in a process that began in 2012, Chelan County and the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology)  have released the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the Icicle Creek Water Resource Management Strategy (Icicle Strategy). The Draft PEIS will be summarized and discussed at a public hearing on Wednesday, June 27 from 4pm to 8pm at Leavenworth Festhalle, 1001 Front Street, Leavenworth, WA. The PEIS evaluates five alternatives to help the Icicle Work Group (IWG) map out a solution for instream flow, tribal, agricultural, domestic, and recreational water needs for the Icicle Creek Subbasin in central Washington.

See Chelan County’s Icicle Strategy website for more information. Aspect has helped coordinate the development of the PEIS, along with multiple teaming partners and co-leads Chelan County and Ecology.

Water Banking in the West

Water banking is increasingly being looked at as an innovative approach to storing and releasing water in water-challenged areas of the West. In May’s issue of The Water Report, Aspect’s Dan Haller wrote an in-depth look at water banking in Washington state, how it compares to the rest of the West, and what recent legislative changes mean for the successful adoption of this water supply tool. Click below to read the article. 

Aspect Talks Water at AWWA Conference

Tim Flynn and Dan Haller will both be presenting Friday April 27th at the AWWA ‘Just Add Water’ 2018 Section Conference in Tacoma. Friday morning, Tim’s presentation will focus on the City of Othello’s unique approach to source development by securing new supplies using irrigation canals, reclaimed water and ASR.

Aspect’s Andrew Austreng will be moderating the afternoon Water Resources technical session during which Dan Haller will be presenting an overview of water rights and water banking in WA.

Aspect’s Dan Haller Sharing His Water Rights Strategies and Discussing the New Exempt Well Legislation at the Central Washington Agriculture Seminar

On April 6th, Aspect’s Dan Haller will be speaking on three water right topics: how to stretch your existing rights to cover new irrigated lands (spreading), the new legislation on rural exempt wells (ESSB 6091), and relinquishment protection strategies

Join Dan and other distinguished speakers for the FREE Central Washington Agriculture Seminar.

Skagit PUD and County Explore Solutions for Legal Water Availability

The Skagit River - Photo Credit: www.rivers.gov

The Skagit River - Photo Credit: www.rivers.gov

In the face of growing development in rural areas across Washington state and limitations on legal water availability stemming from recent court decisions, public agencies like Skagit Public Utility District and Skagit County are wrestling with how to supply water to rural areas.

Potential homeowners, builders, state officials, and tribes are looking for solutions that are agreeable for the community and habitat, and that overcome legal constraints on water availability. A number of solutions are under consideration, including water banking, instream flow augmentation, and storage and release projects. Aspect is at the forefront of water banking facilitation and other rural solutions to address water availability across the state. For example, we’ve helped several private and public entities – including Kittitas and Spokane Counties -- successfully set up a water bank.

Aspect's Dan Haller and Carl Einberger are working with Skagit County PUD to evaluate what this would mean for the County and PUD. They recently joined a combined commissioner meeting with the Skagit County PUD and Skagit County to explore the concept and take questions from the Board.

See their discussion on video here.

New Yakima County Utility Attempting to Balance Rural Development and Water Use

Yakima County is investing $500,000 in grant money to establish a utility it hopes will help resolve water rights and water use conflicts for new developments in rural areas of Yakima County. Aspect’s Dan Haller was asked to weigh on the current value of water rights in the region based on our work assisting Kittitas, Spokane, Chelan, Klickitat, and other counties facing similar issues.  Read the full article HERE.

Aspect's Dan Haller Presenting on Water Law, Water Banking, and Water Rights - 9/28 & 9/29

Washington Public Utility District Association Conference - 9/28

On day two of this year’s WPUDA conference in Leavenworth, Aspect’s Dan Haller will be participating on a morning session panel titled “What’s a Water Bank and How Does it Work?” During the afternoon sessions, Dan will be giving a Water Rights 101 presentation.  Public Utility District's manage numerous water rights over domestic systems, dams, hatcheries, and Parks, which put them in a unique position to participating water Banks to accomplish their overall District. Protecting District water rights is a key priority to ensure they are available for multiple District business needs.

Yakima County Bar Association - 9/29

Dan will be giving a presentation on the Hirst decision and how it affects Eastern Washington water rights to the Yakima County Bar Association September 29th. The Hirst decision changed the regulatory framework of County rural building permit and land use policies and is prompting numerous changes from new regulations, moratoriums on building, creation of water Banks, and water write transactions.

The State of Water Banking in Washington -- Aspect at Law Seminar International

Aspect's Dan Haller will be presenting on the practical implentation issues of Water Banking in Washington State at Law Seminars International on Tuesday July 25 in Seattle.

With water policy presently in the forefront of the state's political arena, water managers across the state are hunting for better solutions to manage water supply. Water banking is a relatively young but promising water policy approach that builds a framework, based in science, of transferring and using water across a municipality.

Water banking has promise because it's better at solving one-to-many water authority issues than traditional water transfers and can be more advantageous under the water code than traditional transfer.

Dan will be presenting alongside Peter H. Dykstra, with Plauche and Carr LLP and Kristina Nelson-Gross with the City of Sequim.

300 Spokane Residents Turn Out to Hear About Hirst Water Rights Decision

Aspect’s Dan Haller and Carl Einberger helped Spokane County (County) officials present on the relevance of the "Hirst" Decision to a packed public meeting on May 19th. Over 300 local residents showed up to hear the County and Aspect go over:

  • The context that led up to the Hirst decision, including some understanding of the evolving interpretations of Washington State water rights law;
  • The role of watershed planning and hydrogeology studies in the Little Spokane basin;
  • Why the County has been proactively planning to implement a water bank; and
  • How a water bank works.

As counties across the state continue to grapple with the implications of Hirst and what it means for property owners and developers in rural areas, Aspect expects public outreach efforts to continue to help guide the conversation over this evolving topic and legislation.

Kittitas County: Leading the Charge on Water Banking

On April 12, Aspect’s Dan Haller will co-present with Kittitas County Commissioner Paul Jewell on the future of Kittitas County Water Resource Management. Kittitas County has been at the heart of the state’s recent water banking approach with the most mature and heralded water bank in Washington. Over the past 10 years, they went from the staunchest opponent to exempt well management to the unquestioned leader in the State, with broad state, local, and tribal endorsement of their transformation.

Over the years, Aspect has helped the County develop the program, including an innovative "over the counter" water rights program.

The presentation will be at the Starlight Lounge in Ellensburg and hosted by the Washington Chapter of the American Water Resources Association (AWRA).

For more details and to register click here.

Dan Haller Speaking on the Policy Implications of Climate Change on Water Supply Management, January 26th

Aspect’s Principal Water Resource Engineer, Dan Haller, will be discussing climate impacts to water on January 26th in Stevenson, Washington.  As future food production and processing systems in the region are expected to be challenged by water supply, the conference aims to create a dialogue among the communities that use and value the regions water supply and water quality. Dan will join a group of water resource experts to discuss policy implications of climate change on water supply management. Learn more about projected climate impacts on water accessibility in the Pacific Northwest and the sustainable management decisions HERE.

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

Dan Haller to Present on Water Right Mitigation at Seattle Law Seminar on November 6

Aspect’s Dan Haller will speak on a panel to discuss water rights mitigation at the 8th Annual Water Rights Transfers Seminar in Seattle.

Mitigation—i.e., offsetting impacts from a new water right by either trading water (in kind mitigation) or providing habitat improvement or investment (out of kind mitigation)—is THE topic in Washington water circles because of the Washington State Supreme Court’s recent Foster vs. Ecology decision. This groundbreaking ruling overturned Ecology’s permit approval, thus cancelling the City of Yelm’s water right permit. This timely panel discussion will discuss recent case law and what it means for future water right permitting strategy.

Learn more or register for the conference HERE.

Dan Haller to Speak at the October 2015 Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum

Aspect’s Dan Haller will join other water experts on a panel to talk about British Columbia versus Washington water supply and management. The Forum will focus attention on sustaining the ecological health of Osoyoos Lake, along with the related well-being of the Okanagan Basin on both sides of the border. Learn more about the Water Science Forum HERE.