Water Right Change of Transfer

(Report of Examination for Water Right Change / Superseding Water Right Certificate)
What is the purpose of this modification?
People with a valid water right permit, certificate, or claim may request authorization from Ecology to change certain elements of their water right. An applicant may choose to contract with a county Water Conservancy Board (if one exists in their county), or contract with Ecology to use a Cost Reimbursement Contractor to process their water right change applications. Ecology reviews these draft decisions and issues the permit, if approved.
Who issues this modification?
Department of Ecology
What activities require this modification?
A change to the place of use, adding or changing a point of diversion or withdrawal, or a change to the purpose of use of an existing water right.
How much will this modification cost?
There is a minimum $50 application fee. Any additional fees will depend on the amount of water the applicant is proposing to use and will need to be paid upfront to consider the application complete. The fee to change, transfer, or amend an existing water-right certificate or claim is fifty cents per one-hundredth cfs of water. The fee to change a storage water right is $1 for each acre-foot of water. The maximum fee for changing an existing water right or water-storage project is $12,500. For a change, transfer, or amendment involving a single project operating under more than one water right, only one examination fee and one certificate fee are required. This includes related secondary diversion rights or the consolidation of multiple water rights. Fees are non-refundable, so do not send additional fees until you are notified of the amount. Ecology will bill you any additional amount owed. Once billed, you will have 60 days to pay, or we will reject your application. Individual County Water Conservancy Boards set their own fees.


Before you spend money and effort to prepare a water right application, we strongly encourage you to engage in a pre-application consultation with our staff. We want to understand your water supply needs and give you our perspective on risks, opportunities, and alternatives. Pre-application is not required but highly recommended.

If you choose a pre-application consultation meeting, we can learn more about your proposed project and inform you of issues related to the decision on your application, such as:
  • Water availability.
  • The status of pending applications.
  • Anticipated processing timelines.
  • Application requirements, fees, and information needs.
  • Water resource regulations specific to your location.
  • Alternatives.
  • Qualifications for priority processing.
  • Cost reimbursement options.
  • Ecology contacts.

  • Download and complete the Water Right Pre-Application Consultation Form. Do your best to complete all sections of the form and we will discuss any incomplete sections at the meeting.
  • E-mail the completed form to the appropriate regional office address on the form. If you cannot e-mail the completed form, please mail it to the appropriate regional office. https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Permits-certifications/Water-right-permits
  • Wait for Ecology to contact you. Our goal is to contact you within five business days to confirm receipt of your pre-application request. We will schedule a meeting or phone call to discuss your water supply needs.

You can invite any professional staff (e.g., engineers, hydrogeologists, or attorneys) to answer technical questions Ecology staff may have..
Where can I get the application for this modification?
The application is called 'Application for Change/Transfer of Water Right' is online and can be accessed at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/summarypages/ecy040197.html.
Do I need to include anything with my application?
The application form may specify reports, maps, and other information you should submit with your application.
Is the decision on my modification dependent on anything besides the information in my application?
When making the decision on your order/permit, Ecology will consider the applicable laws and rules, the contents of your application, and the background environmental conditions.
How long will it take to review my application?
The time it takes Ecology to review your application will depend on:
  • Water location
  • Water availability
  • Project
  • complexity
  • Other applications competing for the same source of water.
A significant backlog of pending water right applications exist in many watersheds. However, opportunities to expedite processing are available via the cost reimbursement process and applying through a Water Conservancy Board. In addition, an application may qualify for priority processing due to public health or environmental reasons (See Chapter 173-152 WAC).
Where do I submit my application?
See the pre-application consultation process instructions above.

If you skip the pre-application process, mail the Application for Change/Transfer of Water Right with a $50.00 check to:

Department of Ecology
Cashiering Section
Po Box 47611
Olympia, WA 98504-7611
View the schematic
How long is my modification valid?
A water right change must be put to use within a timeframe specified in the development schedule in the Report of Examination, which summarizes Ecology’s findings. Once the water allowed by the permit, has been put to use and the project is complete, Ecology will issue a Superseding Water Right Certificate. Once a Superseding Certificate is issued, the permit will remain in good standing as long as water use continues. A water right may lapse if there is a prolonged period of nonuse (five years) unless the permit qualifies for an exemption as provided in RCW 90.14.140.
What is the appeal process for the modification?
An order, permit, license, or decision can be appealed within 30 days from the “date of receipt” of the decision. The appeal process is governed by RCW 43.21B and WAC 371-08. “Date of receipt” is defined in RCW 43.21B.001(2). Get more information on the Pollution Control Board’s Appeal Process web page.
Legal Authority:
Permit Timeliness Results

Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here: https://www.oria.wa.gov/ORIA-2020-PermitTimelinessProgressReport.pdf.

All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)
Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: 44
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 700

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 732
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 5423

(Summary results based on 112 submittals in 2023)

Where can I get permitting assistance?
Web page URL: https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Permits-certifications/Water-rights-permits
Statewide Contact:
Department of Ecology
Water Resources Program
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Fax: (360) 407-7162
Telephone: (360) 407-6872
Website: https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/Our-Programs/Water-Resources
Triggering Questions:
  • Will you be changing or adding new places of use, diversion or withdrawal, or want to change the purpose of use of an existing water right?
* Permit information last updated 8/21/2023