Water Rights

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Entendiendo los derechos de agua

Upcoming Meeting: Water Rights Sub-Committee

Date: Thursday, February 22
Time: 6 pm
Location: Pasco City Hall- Council Chambers (1st Floor)
Comment Online: www.pasco-wa.gov/publiccomment

Watch the previous meeting on January 31 here.

Understanding Pasco's Water Rights: A Closer Look

Reaching Out: We're here to share vital information about Pasco's water rights and the upcoming changes. Understanding these modifications is crucial for ensuring that Pasco continues to flourish.

What are Water Rights?

Pasco's Allocation: Water rights grant us access to use water from sources like the Columbia River. In Pasco, we have the right to use approximately 18,883 acre-feet of water annually for municipal drinking water. To visualize, an acre-foot can cover an acre of land one foot deep.

Why Update Water Rights Rules?

Growth and Demand: Pasco is expanding rapidly! In 2022, we utilized about 15,873 acre-feet of water. To meet the increasing water demand for new homes and businesses, effective management of the city’s water rights is essential.

The New Changes

Water Rights Acquisition Fee:

  • New Fee: To acquire more water rights, we're raising the fee from $1,725 to $4,150 per acre-foot due to a 140.6% increase in market values since 2014.

Encouraging Water Rights Transfer:

  • For Developers: We encourage transferring existing water rights to the city, eliminating the need for additional fees.

Impact on Current Residents and Businesses:

  • Residents: Your water bills remain unchanged. These adjustments are for new developments only.
  • Businesses: Developers will encounter these updated fees, ensuring equitable contribution to our shared water resources.

Why is This Necessary?

Future Preparedness: As Pasco attracts more residents and businesses, ensuring adequate water rights for safe drinking water is paramount. This is vital for our community's health, growth, and success.

Your Role: Your understanding and support are crucial. Staying informed and engaged helps maintain Pasco as a vibrant, thriving community.

Pasco's Water Rights Update: What Developers Need to Know

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A Clear Overview of Pasco's New Water Rights Regulations

Growth and Sustainability: With Pasco's growth, we're adapting our water management to support our expanding community.

Why the Change?

Rising Demand and Market Value: Pasco's water usage is nearing its current rights capacity. The significant market value increase since 2014 necessitates required water rights transfers and fee adjustments.

Key Changes

  • Increased Water Rights Acquisition Fee: The fee has been raised from $1,725 (adopted in 2014) to $4,150 per acre-foot, aligning with the 140.6% market increase. 
  • Water Rights Transfer: Existing water rights are required to be transferred to the City if water rights are available. If water rights are not available, a fee will be incurred. This will secure long-term water availability for new developments. We can help customers fill out the necessary Ecology forms to make these transfers seamless. 

Impact on Developers

  • New Developments on Property with Existing Water Rights: Transfer to the City the necessary amount to serve your new development and no fee is required.   
  • New Developments on Property with No Existing Water Rights and no Water Rights within the last 10 years: The new fee is required to be paid based on the amount of water necessary to serve your new development.   
  • New Development on Property with no Existing Water Rights but had Water Rights within the last 10 years: The new fee plus a surcharge is required to be paid based on the amount of water necessary to serve your new development. 

Impact on Utility Rate Payers

  • Monthly Rates: Change in Developer fee significantly reduces future utility rate increases resulting from higher water rights prices.

Next Steps for Developers

  • Review Your Plans: Assess how the new fees and regulations impact your current and future projects. 
  • Transfer Water Rights: Code changes require you to transfer your water rights. 
  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with ongoing changes and opportunities in Pasco's water rights policies. 

Helpful Links

  1. Maria Serra

    Interim Public Works Director