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GOT WATER? LIMITING WASHINGTON'S STOCKWATERING EXEMPTION TO FIVE THOUSAND GALLONS PER DAY

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In Washington, a comprehensive groundwater code governs groundwater withdrawals and use. This regulatory scheme protects water users, minimizes disputes over water rights, and maximizes the beneficial use of public water resources. Despite these protections, groundwater resources are declining in many parts of the state. Washington exempts certain types of small withdrawals from the groundwater code's regulations, including water for livestock. Conflicting interpretations of this stock-watering exemption have created uncertainty over whether exempt stock-watering withdrawals are unlimited, or are limited to 5,000 gallons per day. This Comment analyzes the conflicting interpretations of the groundwater exemption statute under Washington's rules of statutory interpretation and argues that the stock-watering exemption is limited to 5,000 gallons per day. This conclusion is based on the context of the statute, the historical circumstances surrounding its enactment, and important policy considerations.

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