WUE Rule Background Information

About the Water Use Efficiency Rule

When the Washington State Legislature passed the 2003 Municipal Water Law (MWL) to reform the state's water laws, it accomplished two things:

  1. Added flexibility in the use of municipal water rights to serve growing communities by eliminating some of the risk of losing those municipal rights to the state.
  2. In exchange for this water right flexibility, the law requires municipalities to use water efficiently.

What are the requirements?

WUE requirements can be found in WAC 246-290 and in the May 2016 Revised Third Edition of the Guidebook (PDF). To summarize, municipal water suppliers must:

  • Publicly establish water savings goals for their customers.
  • Evaluate or implement specific water saving measures to achieve customer-based goals.
  • Develop a WUE planning program to support the established goals.
  • Install meters on all customer connections by January 22, 2017.
  • Achieve a standard of no more than 10% water loss.
  • Report annually on progress towards achieving these goals.

What does the Water Use Efficiency Rule achieve?

  • Using water efficiently helps water systems protect against:
  • Temporary water service interruptions during peak usage.
  • Long-term or repeated water disruptions due to limited water supply.
  • Contamination of the water supply due to leaky pipes.

The WUE requirements also:

  • Help ensure reliable long-term water supplies.
  • Promote good stewardship of the state's water resources.
  • Ensure efficient operation and management of water systems.
  • Reduce energy use and save money.

Who is affected?

Any Group A community water system that serves at least 15 residential service connections must comply with the Water Use Efficiency Rule, whether publicly or privately owned.