Compliance in the Walla Walla Basin Cooperation Rather than Confrontation

In January 1999, the WDFW Enforcement Program began evaluating the issue of compliance with state fish screening laws within the Washington portion of the basin. Preliminary information indicated that little to no enforcement activity involving fish screens had occurred over the course of several decades. Records regarding the number and type of surface water diversions, and ownership and compliance rates were virtually non-existent. Although existing diversions were required to operate with permits issued by WDFW and within established water rights regulated by the WDOE, neither agency had a monitoring record. Walla Walla WDFW enforcement staff conferred with their counterparts in the Methow Valley to learn how such issues had been addressed there.

It was during this consultation process that Walla Walla WDFW enforcement staff learned of the four-step Voluntary Compliance Plan. It became apparent that implementation of the voluntary compliance plan in the Methow Valley had met with limited success, at best. Although a plan existed to achieve voluntary compliance, it lacked provisions to help citizens come into compliance [30]. As a result, state and federal officials faced the need to rely heavily on traditional enforcement measures. To avoid this, the WDFW Enforcement Program began to develop a Voluntary Compliance Plan similar to the Methow Valley experience. This program was predicated on the belief that the goal of assisting landowners in achieving compliance could best be accomplished through a process structured to be cooperative (i.e., featuring partnerships and collaborative problem solving) rather than voluntary.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

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