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Ecology Livestock Watering Policy

In 1994 the Department of Ecology developed a policy to encourage livestock producers to move livestock away from surface water (springs, creeks, rivers) to protect water quality. Surface water could be diverted to a stockwater tank outside the excluded area so that pastures could still be used. Many of these projects were done across Washington.


Ecology is reconsidering the policy. The proposed change in policy would not allow the diversion of surface water from an excluded area or livestock drinking surface water directly unless the livestock owner has a water right. The right to drill a well and water the number of livestock equal to, or less than, the carrying capacity of the land parcel remains. This policy will affect most of the livestock in the state.

Update 7/27/22:

The Washington State Conservation Commission and the Department of Ecology have discontinued meeting and the statewide listening sessions that were planned have been cancelled. The Conservation Commission put out an update and you can read it by clicking here.



Policy Language and Comment Form

Current Policy With Changes

Click here to see the current policy and the proposed changes which are marked in red.

Proposed Policy

Click here to see the policy in the final form.

Comment Form

Click here to submit a comment on the policy.


The Ferry Conservation District is committed to the sustainable use of natural resources. There is also the understanding that keeping the agricultural community viable is important for the landscape as a whole. Click here to see the comments that were submitted by the Board of Supervisors regarding the Ecology policy

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