As a result of a recent Washington Supreme Court case, Okanogan County is planning to revise the way that water approvals are issued. In the past, water adequacy was determined by Okanogan County Public Health. Applicants were required to successfully pass a coliform bacteria test and a nitrate test, and then submit a well log showing that the well was capable of producing at least 1/4-gallon per minute. These criteria proved that the water was of sufficient quality and quantity to serve the intended purpose.
Additionally, applicants will have to prove that the water is legally available to them. Just because water is present doesn't mean it is legal to use it. Okanogan County will now require applicants to come before a hearings examiner to determine if the withdrawal of water from a particular well will impair senior water right holders or the legally established minimum flow rate in the Okanogan and Methow Rivers. The ramifications of this new process could be that some properties once considered buildable real estate will no longer be suitable for construction.