The Washington State Dept. of Ecology is looking for your feedback on updating the Critical Aquifer Recharge Area Guidance

By - Laurie Morgan, LHG, Hydrogeologist, Water Quality Program
Washington Department of Ecology

This fall, Ecology will conduct an online survey to help us determine the scope of updates and understand what improvements you are looking for in the Critical Aquifer Recharge Area guidance.

Local government planners are required to update comprehensive plans and ordinances to protect Critical Areas under the Growth Management Act (GMA).  Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas are intended to protect the local drinking water supply that depends on groundwater.  Ecology provides guidance to help local governments achieve compliance with the GMA.

The current Critical Aquifer Recharge Area guidance is from 2005 and is overdue for an update. 

Along with local planners, we are working with the Washington State Department of Commerce Growth Management Services, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and others to start a process to update this guidance.

Our goals:

  • Help cities and counties achieve requirements of the Growth Management Act for Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas and Best Available Science.
  • Give cities and counties tools and guidance to make it easier to protect their local drinking water supply.
  • Give examples of ways various laws, rules, and programs can be integrated in an efficient and useful way for groundwater protection.

Here are some areas of the guidance we hope to bring up-to-date:

  • Reflect GMA laws and rules regarding Critical Areas amended since 2005
  • Reflect outcomes of many cases that have been decided by the Growth Management Hearings Board and Superior Court since 2005
  • Update the resources referred to within the document

Next Steps - Questions or to sign up for future notifications:

Contact by email Laurie Morgan or call (360) 407-6483
We will also post updates on our Critical Aquifer Recharge Area’s webpage.
Please start thinking about topics you are interested in updating in the guidance and look for our survey in the fall.
After we conduct our survey, we will provide a summary of comments and information about how we will incorporate comments into the new draft guidance.  After the draft guidance is written, we will release it for comment before it is finalized.
Laurie Morgan is a licensed hydrogeologist with the Dept. of Ecology Water Quality Program.  She is the principal author of the Critical Aquifer Recharge Area Guidance.

Return to the July/August issue of The Washington Planner