Moses Lake September 20, 2010

Water Rights in Washington

Overview of Water Rights in Washington 

A water right is:  A right to a beneficial use of a reasonable quantity of public water for beneficial purpose during a certain period of time occurring at a certain place. (Considered a “Use” right).

There are 2 different types of water rights, surface and groundwater rights.  If you have the right to divert water from a river, stream etc, you have surface water rights.  If you have the right to pump water from a well you have a groundwater right.  Many of the same things apply to both of them but there are also some important differences.

The term “beneficial use” us one of the most important terms in water rights.  It is both the measure and limit of a water right and the purpose for which that water is used.  Your actual water right is determined by how much water you and your predecessors have historically used.  If your historical use is less then what is stated on the water document your right is limited to the amount that has actually been used.  

Moses Lake Irrigation

Moses Lake Irrigation


The Priority date is also an important term in valuing a water right.  A person who established a water right first has a senior priority and the right to divert all of their water before the person with the next junior right can take any of their water from the same source.

It is important to know within Grant County your water rights and how they were established. Make sure you find an experienced agent in Moses Lake who understands all the nuances that come with having water rights or your property could be all dried up.

Contact Heather Adkinson @ 509-760-7733