Press Release
Public Health


Kittitas County Expands "OTC" Water Access

Kittitas County, WA - 02/06/2017 - Kittitas County has received a ground water permit from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) to issue “over the counter” permitted water rights for parcels located within a large portion of the green zone of Kittitas County’s water bank. The water bank is used to provide mitigation for new domestic uses of ground water, such as a new home. The new ground water permit covers the Wilson Creek/Cherry Creek sub-basin and will significantly decrease the processing and decision time needed for certain approvals.

Since December 2, 2015 Kittitas County has offered quick processing for water mitigation decisions on parcels within the water bank’s green zone.  Until now though, this option was only available to applicants who qualified to use a permit-exempt well for their project.  Permit-exempt wells don’t require the issuance of a water right permit from the state.  Approvals utilizing this “over-the-counter” process would be issued quickly, usually within a week or two, by county staff.  This differed dramatically from a water right permit application.  If required, water right permit applications were processed only by the Department of Ecology and took a year or more receive a decision.
This new permit issued to Kittitas County is the first of its kind in the state for this type of application.  It allows the county to issue approvals based on an evaluation performed by Ecology similar to that of an individual permit, but across the entire area to which it applies.  The county worked with Ecology and other senior water right holders including staff from the Yakama Nation for over a year and a half to get the permit approved.  Aspect Consulting was also retained by the county to assist with the technical work of the application.  “We pursued this permit authorization from Ecology in order to provide a more efficient process for our customers. We are pleased to offer a faster option for this specific area while still meeting our legal obligations and protecting the long term interests of our citizens,” asserts Kittitas County Commissioner Paul Jewell.  The new option for customers who need a permit in the Wilson Creek/Cherry Creek sub basin means the County can issue mitigation certificates for new domestic uses of groundwater in the same time frame required for a permit-exempt use (usually less than 10 days) from its water bank versus the 12 month permit process with Ecology.
Kittitas County will pursue additional permit approvals for other sub basins, similar to the authorization received for the Wilson Creek/Cherry Creek sub basin.  Specifically, the county is working towards an upper county option for customers. Until additional permits are acquired, this change only applies to permit required parcels in Wilson Creek/Cherry Creek sub basins within green zones of the county’s water bank. “ Kittitas County strives to provide excellent customer service to anyone pursuing water mitigation,” states Environmental Health Specialist Erin Moore.  Kittitas County has created maps with parcel information that includes qualifying water banks and ground water permit requirement status.  To explore this map, please visit the Water Mitigation Suitability Map located:

Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at


Contact: Erin Moore, 509-607-0836