Growing communities, agriculture, industry, and the importance of conserving water for fish have placed an increasing demand on our state's water resources. To help meet these growing needs, the state legislature passed the Municipal Water Supply-Efficiency Requirements Act (PDF), commonly called MWL. The MWL was challenged and later upheld by the Washington State Supreme Court. Visit the MWL Legal Challenges page for more information about the lawsuit.
Municipal water suppliers are all Group A community water systems with 15 or more residential connections and Group A non-community systems that provide water for residential uses (such as bathing, cooking, and cleaning) to a non-residential population for 25 or more people for 60 or more days a year.
We believe the law will:
- Provide more certainty and flexibility for water rights held by water systems.
- More closely tie water system planning and engineering approvals by the Department of Health to water rights administered by the state Department of Ecology.
- Improve the ability to plan for future growth.
- Offer greater flexibility to solve public health problems with water right changes and transfers.
- Advance water use efficiency.
- Assure greater reliability of safe drinking water for communities.
The Department of Health is implementing MWL through:
- Water Use Efficiency. On January 22, 2007, the Water Use Efficiency rule became effective to help conserve water for both the environment and future generations by requiring municipal water suppliers to use water more efficiently.
- On February 14, 2008 our Planning and Engineering Rules (PDF, DOH 331-010) were incorporated into WAC 246-290.
- Coordination with the Department of Ecology - In April of 2007, in conjunction with the Department of Ecology we updated procedures for coordinating water resource issues related to public water systems that involve both agencies. We and the Department of Ecology also developed a Memorandum of Understanding (PDF), Joint Review Procedures (PDF) and an Agency Responsibilities Outline (PDF) that documents who is responsible for implementing each section of the MWL.
- Appendix H- Interruptible Water Rights - an inter-agency agreement between the Departments of Health and Ecology on the processing of interruptible water rights applications, April 2009.
- Flowchart for Interruptible Water Rights processing (PDF)
The Department of Ecology developed the 2003 Municipal Water Law Interpretive and Policy Statement (PDF) that explains how they implement the MWL.
Municipal water suppliers now have more water right flexibility and certainty, but they also need to include more information in their water system plan or small water system management program.
The guidance documents and fact sheets below will help municipal water suppliers understand the benefits of MWL and comply with the additional requirements for their planning documents. Here are the additional requirements:
- Documentation that your plan is consistent with local government plans (WAC 246-290-108). This is required for water system plans only, unless you request to expand your water right place of use through your small water system management program. See Local Government Consistency Determination Form (Word).
- Identified retail service area (WAC 246-290-100(4)(a)(iv)). This is required for water system plans only. The retail service area is where municipal water suppliers have a duty to serve. See Municipal Water Law - Duty to Provide Service Requirement (PDF, DOH 331-366).
- Completed Water Use Efficiency Program (WAC 246-290-810). This is required for water system plans and small water system management programs. For additional information see WUE Guidebook, Third Edition (PDF, DOH 331-375).
- Additional information may be required depending on the situation. Contact your ODW regional planner (see below) to discuss, before submitting additional material.
- Local Government Consistency Determination Form (Word)
- Guidance - Timely and Reasonable Water Service (PDF)
- Policy - Local Government Consistency (PDF)
- Municipal Water Law - Duty to Provide Service Requirement (PDF, DOH 331-366)
- Municipal Water Law - Documentation for Expanding a Water Right's Place of Use (PDF)
- Municipal Water Law - Approval Requirement for Water System Plans (PDF)
- Municipal Water Law - Service Area Policies (PDF)
- Municipal Water Law - Service Area Requirements for Municipal Water Suppliers (PDF)
Municipal Water Law Contacts
Water Use Efficiency
Rule Implementation Mike Means, 360-236-3178
Planning and Engineering Requirements
Brian Sayrs Sayrs, 509-329-2137
Regional Office Contacts
Jennifer Kropack, Technical and Planning, 253-395-6769
Richard Rodriguez, Planning, 253-395-6771
Jamie Gardipe, Planning, 509-329-2137
Brenda Smits, Planning, 509-329-2122
Fern Schultz, Planning, 360-236-3031
Deborah Johnson, Planning, 253-433-4054