What state and federal regulation changes have caused water costs to increase?

The primary regulation that is causing costs to increase is the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

The State and local governments have enacted and are continuing to propose increases in fees, penalties, and operational requirements, which add to the cost of service. Examples include:

  • Expansion of the utility tax
  • Permit processing construction review fee increases
  • Water system operating permits and plan review fee increases
  • Expanded water system operator certification and qualification requirements
  • Conditions, requirements, or necessary improvements to ensure safety of water supplies
  • Conservation Fees

The State Department of Ecology's (DOE) review process for new water right applications is a very lengthy and exhaustive process. Simple requests can take years of political and legal capital before action is taken. The majority of recent DOE decisions have been based on water right applications where health and safety were an issue. The inability of water systems to obtain water rights has resulted in resorting to more expensive alternatives (e.g., installing expensive treatment systems on old sources or using the cost reimbursement provision for priority water right processing).