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Workshops drill into water right training


The Washington Department of Ecology will host two public workshops in June on a training and certification program for private-sector water right examiners.


The proposed statewide rule creating the program is the result of 2010 legislation that authorizes the use of certified consultants to complete final inspections of water projects and documentation necessary for Ecology to issue water right certificates. Consultants would be paid by the water right applicants.


Ecology is proceeding with rule making for the certification program under an exemption to Gov. Chris Gregoire's executive order suspending certain rule-making activities through the end of 2011.


A water right examiners program will streamline service to water right permit holders who have completed their water use projects and are prepared to receive a final water right certificate.


Ken Slattery, manager of the agency's Water Resources Program, said allowing private-sector examiners will free up Ecology staffers to focus more time and effort on water right change applications. "The states of Oregon and Idaho have long relied on a similar approach for final certification of water rights," he said.


Professional engineers and land surveyors, registered hydrogeologists, water conservancy board commissioners and others with five years of applicable experience are considered initially eligible to be certified as water right examiners. Under the proposed rule, applicants will be required to pass a written examination and provide proof of a $50,000 surety bond before they can accept clients.


Public hearings and a public-comment period will be announced after the workshops but scheduled before the proposed rule is considered for adoption by the end of 2011.


The proposed rule establishes a fee to help cover Ecology's costs of testing and certifying contractors.


Workshop times and places:


* Lacey -- 6 p.m. June 15 at the Ecology headquarters auditorium.


* Moses Lake -- 6 p.m. June 23 at the Big Bend Community College community room.


-- Steve Brown




Online


Washington Department of Ecology: www.ecy.wa.gov



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