Building Permits and Subdivisions Using New Permit Exempt Wells

New Permit-Exempt Wells Faucet Image
General Information
 
Effective January 19, 2018

Governor Inslee signed ESSB 6091 which went into effect immediately.  This bill addresses water availability to support existing and new development.  This bill changes how the County has been processing applications using drilled “permit-exempt” wells as follows:

  • Existing wells are exempt from this change 
  • The County will no longer require a hydro-geologic study associated with these applications
  • The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) still reviews well applications. More info can be found on the TPCHD website.
  • Wells within certain Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA) are subject to withdraw rates. Wells within the #11 Nisqually WRIA are limited to 3,000 gallons per day. Wells within the #10 Puyallup-White, #12 Chambers-Clover, and #15 Kitsap WRIAs are limited to 950 gallons per day. Refer to WRIA map.
  • A new administrative fee of $500 ($350 to Washington State Department of Ecology, $150 to the County for reporting requirements)  
  • A recording of restrictions on title is now required (additional recording fee) 
To review the industry notice click here.

Frequently Asked Questions


General

Who does this change affect?
If I already have a permit-exempt well how does this affect me?
Why is Pierce County making this change?

Permit-Exempt Wells and Water Rights
What is a permit-exempt well?

General



Who does this change affect?
Anyone applying for a building permit or subdivision using a new permit-exempt well within the County.

If I already have an approved permit-exempt well how does this affect me?
It does not affect you.

Why is Pierce County making this change?
New legislation requires the county to make these changes. On January 19, 2018 Governor Inslee signed ESSB 6091 which went into effect immediately.  This bill addresses water availability to support existing and new development.  This bill changes how the County has been processing applications using drilled “permit-exempt” wells

Permit-Exempt Wells & Water Rights



What is a permit-exempt well?
Permit-exempt wells are authorized through RCW 90.44.050. This state law allows use of groundwater for specific purposes without the need to obtain a water rights permit. Although these permit-exempt uses don’t require a water right permit, you are still subject to state water law.

Map/Other Resources

General

Maps
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) Information
Want More information? 
Landowner's Guide to Washington Water Rights, Washington Rivers Conservancy, 2009
Understanding the Whatcom County vs. Hirst, Futurewise et. al. decision, WA Dept. of Ecology, 2016


Staff Contact
 
Michael Jimenez
Senior Planner
mjimen1@co.pierce.wa.us
253-798-7181

Cory Ragan
Associate Planner
cragan@co.pierce.wa.us
253-798-2590