GMA Compliance on Water/Land Use Issues - 2014

What's This All About?

The Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board in 2008 found that the County’s Comprehensive Plan and the Kittitas County Code did not assure the protection of rural land use character nor protect the quantity or quality of water within the County. The State Supreme Court agreed with this decision in 2011, and the County is now in the process of addressing these issues.

The County is revising the current Comprehensive Plan language and related development regulations as they apply to the future use of water and land use. Some aspects of the County’s current Plan and Code are not consistent with State laws that guide quantity of water use.

What's Being Proposed?

The County has negotiated a settlement proposal with the appellants in the Growth Management Hearings Board case, including the Department of Ecology (Ecology). As part of the settlement, the County agrees to consider regulations which will require mitigation for new uses of ground water in Lower Kittitas County residing in the Yakima River Drainage Basin. The proposal is to implement this new requirement in two phases.

Phase 1 (Interim Measures):

  • 18 month duration commencing on the effective date of the new regulations.
  • Mitigation will be required for all new uses of ground water for domestic (including lawns and gardens), commercial, irrigation and industrial purposes within the areas of Lower Kittitas County inside the Yakima River Drainage Basin with regard to Total Water Supply Available (TWSA).
  • Kittitas County may offer mitigation for new domestic uses related to a building permit application through a county-secured leased water right.
  • New uses mitigated through the County’s program will be limited to indoor domestic and up to 500 square feet of outdoor use only.
  • Building permit applicants will be required to record their water use restrictions as a deed restriction prior to a building permit being issued.
  • Upper Kittitas County will remain under the regulations imposed by Chapter 173-539A WAC.

Phase 2 (Permanent Measures):

  • Replaces the Interim Measures at the conclusion of the 18 months.
  • Mitigation will be required for all new uses of ground water in all of Kittitas County inside the Yakima River Drainage Basin.
  • Mitigation will only be valid if it is determined to be water-budget neutral by Ecology.
  • The County may continue offering leased water for mitigation if it meets the water-budget neutrality standard for up to five years from the date of the new regulations (including the Interim Measures).
  • Building permit applicants will be required to record their water use restrictions as a deed restriction prior to a building permit being issued.
  • Metering, monitoring, and reporting of new ground water uses will be required.
  • Ecology will begin the process of repealing the Upper County Rule (Chapter 173-539A WAC) within 180 days.

How do I Get Involved?

An open public hearing was held before the Board of County Commissioners on February 26, 2014, and public testimony on the proposed amendments to the County’s Comprehensive Plan and Kittitas County Code was taken. At the end of the testimony the Commissioners decided to allow the public to provide written comment on the proposals until 5 p.m. Monday, March 3, 2014. The Commissioners also determined to continue the closed-record public hearing to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 for deliberation on the proposals at the Commissioners’ Auditorium, 205 West 5th Avenue, Suite 109 in Ellensburg, WA. A decision to accept, modify or deny the recommendations will be made following the closed record hearing either that evening or at another time. If you have any questions, please contact Doc Hansen or Lindsey Ozbolt in Community Development at (509) 962-7506.

Audio Recordings from the Hearing

Hearing Documents