Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1987 NO. 3 > Jan 15 1987

Water districts do not have authority to fluoridate water by state statute.  Assuming water district commissioners obtain authority to fluoridate by county, city or town ordinance, fluoridation for the water districts' users would be proper even if it incidentally resulted in delivery of fluoridated water outside the district.

AGO 2008 NO. 5 > Mar 27 2008

1.  A county health board may lawfully order the fluoridation of a water supply system owned and operated by a public utility district and located within the county’s jurisdiction.  2.  Subject to constitutional requirements, a county health board may lawfully order a public utility district to fluoridate a discrete portion of the PUD’s water supply system.  3.  A county health board may enact a regulation requiring the fluoridation of water supply systems generally but, subject to constitutional requirements, a generally applicable regulation is not prerequisite to the issuance of enforcement orders on the subject.  4.  A county health board may lawfully order the fluoridation of a water supply system where the order is contingent upon a third-party source of funding for the fluoridation process.

AGO 2009 NO. 6 > Sep 21 2009

1.      The statutory exemption from the permitting requirement for use in watering lawns and noncommercial gardens is not included within the exemption for domestic use.  2.      The Department of Ecology lacks the authority to impose lower or different limits on exempt withdrawals of groundwater than are provided in statute by “partially withdrawing” the waters from additional appropriation.  3.      The authority of the Department of Ecology to withdraw waters from new appropriations applies to both permitted and permit-exempt uses of groundwater.  4.      The Interlocal Cooperation Act is not an independent source of agency authority.

AGO 1997 NO. 6 > Oct 10 1997

1.Where a property owner wishes to develop land and supply the development with domestic water from several wells, and each well will pump less than 5000 gallons per day but all the wells together will pump more than 5000 gallons per day, the project is a single withdrawal of ground water and is not exempt from the permit requirements of chapters 90.44 and 90.03 RCW.2.There is no statutory provision for intertying, pursuant to RCW 90.03.383, water systems deriving from ground water withdrawals which were exempt from permitting pursuant to RCW 90.44.050; the intertie statute could be applied if the exempt withdrawals applied for a permit, or were consolidated (pursuant to Laws of 1997, ch. 446) with another water right with a permit or certificate.3.If the owner of a water right deriving from an exempt ground water withdrawal applies for a permit for the withdrawal pursuant to RCW 90.44.050, the Department of Ecology would apply the four-element test contained in RCW 90.03.290 in deciding whether to grant a permit.4.There is no statutory or other lawful basis for issuing a water rights certificate to the holder of a water right based on an exempt ground water withdrawal, unless either (1) the owner of the right applies for and receives a permit or (2) the exempt right is first consolidated with a right covered by a permit or certificate.5.There is no current statutory authority for transferring a water right deriving from an exempt ground water withdrawal to a different place of use and/or a different purpose of use pursuant to RCW 90.44.100, RCW 90.03.380 and related laws, unless (1) the owner of the right applies for and receives a permit or (2) the exempt right is first consolidated with a right covered by a permit or certificate.

AGO 1992 NO. 8 > Jun 1 1992

RCW 41.04.190 provides that insurance benefits are not additional compensation for county elected officials.  RCW 41.04.190 does not apply to insurance benefits provided to water district commissioners pursuant to RCW 57.08.100.

AGO 1968 NO. 8 > Feb 19 1968

Where the public waters of a stream are "fully appropriated," a city may nevertheless acquire a permit from the department of water resources pursuant to the provisions of RCW 90.03.290 to appropriate and apply to a "nonconsumptive municipal use" a portion of said waters where (1) the proposed "nonconsumptive municipal use" would not impair existing rights or be detrimental to the public welfare, and (2) there are, in fact, waters in the stream which are available for appropriation for a beneficial use within the meaning of RCW 90.03.290.

AGO 1976 NO. 12 > Jun 4 1976

If, in order to attain "maximum net benefits" and protect the public welfare and interest against the long range detrimental effects of a perpetual water use not so restricted, the state department of ecology, in issuing a surface water right permit pursuant to RCW 90.03.290, determines to include a provision authorizing use of such waters unconditionally for specified initial period of time (e.g., fifty years), with any authorization to withdraw for further periods of time made dependent upon subsequent determinations by the department involving public needs for the waters involved, that action is likely to be upheld by the courts.

AGO 1972 NO. 15 > Jul 25 1972

(1) Under chapter 36.94 RCW, a county may either construct a single system of water and/or sewerage disposal for the entire county or it may create several separate such systems for separate portions of the county.(2) If a county establishes separate systems of water and/or sewerage disposal for separate parts of the county, each system must be covered by a separate "general plan" under RCW 36.94.030, and there must be a separate review committee under RCW 36.94.050 for each such proposed system and plan.

AGO 1992 NO. 17 > Jul 28 1992

1.  RCW 19.27.097 provides that an applicant for a building permit must provide evidence of an adequate supply of potable water.  The authority to make this determination is the local agency that issues building permits.  2.  The Legislature has authorized the Board of Health to establish, and the Department of Health to enforce, a comprehensive regulatory scheme for public water systems. In determining whether water to be supplied from a public water system constitutes an adequate water supply for purposes of RCW 19.27.097, the local agency issuing building permits must apply the standards set by the Board of Health.  3.  If water is not supplied from a public water system, the local agency issuing building permits has more discretion to determine if the water supply is adequate for purposes of RCW 19.27.097.  At a minimum, there must be sufficient quality and quantity of water for the intended purpose of the building.

AGO 2006 NO. 17 > Sep 25 2006

1. In reviewing a water conservancy board record of decision concerning a water right transfer application, the Department of Ecology is not limited to reviewing the record established by the water conservancy board but may base its decision upon an independent factual investigation. 2. In reviewing a water conservancy board record of decision concerning a water right transfer application, the Department of Ecology is not required to: 1) defer to the water conservancy board’s findings of fact, or 2) defer to the board’s interpretation of the law. 3. A water conservancy board, in making a decision concerning a water right transfer application, is not legally required to follow policies or guidelines of the Department of Ecology which have not been adopted as statutes or administrative rules; however, the Department of Ecology may refer to and follow its own policies or guidelines in reviewing the local board’s decision.

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