UPDATE: The Water Smart Washington online forum is now open for comments (8/30/10)
Where does your water come from?
For many people, the answer is simple: the faucet in my kitchen sink.
In fact, your drinking water, the water used to grow crops, and the water that fish and wildlife depend upon, comes from the rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater of Washington state. The average person takes water for granted and assumes it will always be here: clean, abundant and cheap.
Let's discuss this online!
Those of us who work in the Water Resources Program at the Department of Ecology are reaching out to the public to challenge those assumptions. We’d like to invite you to join us in a major effort to change the way water is managed in Washington state so that water for current and future needs will always be available.
On Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, Ecology will open the Water Smart Washington Online Forum to engage the public in water management discussions.
Growing demands for water fueled by population growth, the need for economic development, and finding ways to cope with climate change, means we will be facing declining water supplies unless we change the way we do our work in Water Resources and find better ways to pay for that work.
Finding new and better ways to manage water
Water Resources’ ongoing mission is to partner with Washington communities in support of managing sustainable water resources for the benefit of people and the natural environment. Efforts to fulfill that mission, however, have been handicapped in recent years by inconsistent funding resulting from dependence on the State General Fund and the need to update 19th century water laws which are inadequate for regulating water use in the 21st Century.
Budget cuts and staff reductions have left us with antiquated data systems and have put us way behind in processing water right applications. You need a water right to use the water of Washington but our backlog has left thousands of applicants waiting in line for their applications to be processed.
The Water Smart Washington Online Forum will feature a 'Question of the Week' about how the Water Resources Program can become more efficient and self-sustaining. A sample question:
“Currently state taxpayers pay for more than 98 percent of the cost of processing water right applications for agriculture or commercial uses, with the cost of processing averaging about $10,000 per application. Should those who want to use the water of Washington pay a larger portion or even the full cost of processing their water right applications?”
Your comments and suggestions will be posted online in the Forum and your questions will be answered. Your participation in the Forum will help shape the policy initiatives Ecology is considering and the proposed legislation that Ecology will be requesting to reform water resource management in Washington state.
So please check our website on Monday, Aug. 30 and join in the discussion. In the meantime, the introductory video for the Online Forum is currently available on YouTube.