Chelan County is moving forward with its plan to use grant money to expand its water bank.  

The County is proposing to purchase three water rights as well as expand the types of uses the bank will serve and expand the geographic area of the bank. 

County Natural Resources Director Mike Kaputa says the water bank could also be an innovative tool for use countywide. 

"We have specific issues that we're trying to address in Lake Chelan, or Mission Creek, or Chumstick, Icicle," said Kapauta. "But there may be more opportunity for industrial water or agricultural water, or what have you, that can go in the bank." 

Kaputa says the county will be working for a couple of years on purchasing water rights and developing a water bank agreement, which will need to be codified into the county code. 

The water banking agreement will allow the county to take credit for having water for future use. Kaputa says it will also allow the county to keep water from leaving the area. 

"That would be a huge benefit locally," Kaputa said. "Because if you have to go out onto the open market and try to find water, with the prices that we're talking about, and the potential conditions, it really slows development down. This could be a turnkey way to provide water for future growth of all kinds." 

The state is allowing counties to apply for up to $2 million in grant money to buy water rights and use within a water banking agreement. 

Chelan County commissioners signed off Monday on an agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology for Chelan County Water Bank Development and Water Right Acquisition. 

The County is proposing to buy portions of 3 water rights with grant funds including: 78.8 acrefoot/year (afy) of a Lake Chelan Reserve water right, 26.6 afy of a water right in the Mission Creek subbasin, and 2.25 afy of a water right in the Beaver Creek/Wenatchee basin.  

The water rights will serve additional rural uses in Lake Chelan as well as the Mission Creek and Beaver Creek basins, which all have limited water reserves for growth.  

The County has agreed to permanently commit one-third of each water right instream, in order to meet the funding program requirements, set by the State Legislature. 

Two-thirds of the water can go for growth. 

The county originally submitted its proposal to the Department of Ecology in November of 2021. 

Kaputa said there’s been a lot of legal review on the part of the department on how it will treat water acquisition. He said there would be more discussion within the county’s legal department and among commissioners about buying water, and what it would entail.  

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