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Allocation of Conserved Water

The Allocation of Conserved Water Program allows a water user who conserves water to use a portion of the conserved water on additional lands, lease or sell the water, or dedicate the water to instream use. Use of this program is voluntary and provides benefits to both water right holders and instream values.

The statutes authorizing the program were originally passed by the Legislative Assembly in 1987. The primary intent of the law is to promote the efficient use of water to satisfy current and future needs--both out-of-stream and instream. The statute defines conservation as "the reduction of the amount of water diverted to satisfy an existing beneficial use achieved either by improving the technology or method for diverting, transporting, applying or recovering the water or by implementing other approved conservation measures." 

In the absence of Department approval of an allocation of conserved water, water users who make the necessary investments to improve their water use efficiency are not allowed to use the conserved water to meet new needs; instead any unused water remains in the stream where it is available for the next appropriator. In exchange for granting the user the right to "spread" a portion of the conserved water to new uses, the law requires allocation of a portion to the state for instream use.

After mitigating the effects on any other water rights, the Water Resources Commission allocates 25 percent of the conserved water to the state (for an instream water right) and 75 percent to the applicant, unless more than 25 percent of the project costs come from federal or state non-reimbursable sources or the applicant proposes a higher allocation to the state. A new water right certificate is issued with the original priority date reflecting the reduced quantity of water being used with the improved technology. A certificate is issued for the state's instream water right, and, if requested, a certificate is issued for the applicant´s portion of the conserved water. The priority dates for the state's instream certificate and the applicant's portion of conserved water must be the same date and will be either the same date as the original water right or one minute junior to the original right. 


The following sections list all the forms you need to apply.

Program Implementation
The Allocation of Conserved Water program was statutorily authorized in 1987.  Prior to 2000, the Department had received only 10 applications.  Since then, interest in the program has grown considerably. By the end of 2017, a total of 100 new applications had been submitted, as support for streamflow restoration has increased and water users have sought to expand supplies.

For more information contact:
Corey Courchane 503-979-3917

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