Monday, January 13, 2020

We’re wading into water issues at the 2020 Legislature

Water-related issues are among our top priorities as we head into the 2020 Washington legislative session. 

With climate forecasts predicting more frequent droughts, it’s critical that we take a more proactive approach to helping communities faced with water supply issues. Another environmental issue we face as a state is the use of copper-based paint on boats. We know these paints are harmful to fish and other marine life, but more research is needed to find the best alternatives. To address these issues, we’ve asked the Legislature to consider bills that provide solutions to the problems.

Drought preparedness for Washington communities

Irrigation sprinkler watering field.

Current statutes limit our ability to effectively prepare for and respond to drought emergencies. Our proposal would build long-term drought resiliency for farmers and water suppliers.

Among the improvements this bill would make is ensuring that projects designed to support public water systems and agriculture during droughts are all equitably eligible for grant funding. The bill would also create a pilot program related to water right leases, and it would establish a drought advisory status to call attention to deteriorating conditions in advance of a full drought declaration. 

Protecting Washington waters and fish

Boat on trailer being backed into Puget Sound on boat ramp.

A 2018 law banned copper-based antifouling paints for recreational boats beginning in 2021. The law also directed us to review alternatives to copper-based antifouling paints and develop recommendations for the Legislature.

We completed this report in the summer of 2019, but found there are still significant unanswered questions about existing alternatives to copper-based paints. Because of these concerns, we're requesting that the Legislature delay the ban on copper-based paints to Jan. 1, 2026. We’re also requesting other actions that would better position Washington to manage environmental issues related to antifouling paints.

Learn more about these bills and others

We’re committed to keeping people informed on our legislative actions. You can learn more about these bills and other legislative priorities by visiting our 2020 Legislative Priorities web page. Updates on bill status will also be shared on our Twitter account @EcologyWA

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By Camille St. Onge, communications

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