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Types of Special Purpose Districts in Washington State

This page lists the types of special purpose districts authorized by statute in Washington State by general function. Some districts serve multiple functions and may appear under multiple categories.

Agricultural Districts (Irrigation and Reclamation)

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Board of Joint Control (Irrigation districts and other entities) Ch. 87.80 RCW 1949 Administer water supply system of two or more irrigation entities and promotes more effective/efficient water management.
Diking, Drainage, and Irrigation Improvement District (or Drainage and Irrigation Improvement District) Ch. 85.22 RCW 1933 Provide irrigation, in addition to normal powers of diking or drainage district.
Irrigation District Ch. 87.03 RCW 1890 Provide irrigation, develop electrical generating facilities, purchase and sell electricity, provide street lighting, provide sewer and domestic water systems.
Irrigation and Rehabilitation District Ch. 87.84 RCW 1961 Convert certain irrigation districts to further recreational potential of larger lakes, improve inland lakes and shorelines.
Reclamation and Irrigation District in Reclamation Areas Ch. 89.12 RCW 1943 Provide for participation in federal reclamation projects.
Reclamation District of One Million Acres Ch. 89.30 RCW 1927 Reclamation and improvement of arid and semiarid lands and for the generation and/or sale of hydroelectric energy.

Agricultural Districts (Pest and Weed Control)

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Agricultural Pest District Ch. 17.12 RCW 1919 Destroy/exterminate animals that destroy/interfere with agricultural plants or products.
Horticultural Pest and Disease Board (Horticultural Assessment) Ch. 15.09 RCW 1969 Provide funds for inspecting and disinfecting horticultural or agricultural produces and horticultural premises.
Mosquito Control District Ch. 17.28 RCW 1957 Abate or exterminate mosquitoes.
Weed District Ch. 17.04 RCW 1921 Control, prevent, and exterminate weeds found detrimental to crops, fruit trees, shrubs, foliage, or other agricultural plants or foliage.
Intercounty Weed District Ch. 17.06 RCW 1959 Provide for joint weed control program in all or any part of two or more counties.

Diking, Drainage, and Flood Control Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Diking District Ch. 85.05 RCW 1895 Straighten, widen, deepen and improve all rivers, watercourses or streams, construct diking system to protect land from overflow.
Diking, Drainage, and Irrigation Improvement District (or Drainage and Irrigation Improvement District) Ch. 85.22 RCW 1933 Provide irrigation, in addition to normal powers of diking or drainage district.
Diking, Drainage, and Sewerage Improvement District Ch. 85.08 RCW; Ch. 85.15 RCW 1913 Improve dikes, ditches, sewers, and related facilities.
Diking or Drainage Improvement District Ch. 85.20 RCW 1917 Establish diking or drainage system.
Drainage District Ch. 85.06 RCW 1895 Establish drainage system.
Flood Control by Counties Jointly - 1913 Act (Intercounty) Ch. 86.13 RCW 1913 Help control flooding on a river or its tributaries that border two counties.
Flood Control District Ch. 86.09 RCW 1937 Protect life and property, preserve public health, and conserve and develop natural resources.
Flood Control Zone District Ch. 86.15 RCW 1961 Undertake, operate, or maintain flood control projects/storm water control projects for areas of the county.
Intercounty Diking and Drainage District Ch. 85.24 RCW 1909 Establish diking and drainage systems or erect flood dams to prevent inundations on land located in two or more counties.

Economic Development Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Apportionment District (Community Redevelopment Act) Ch 39.88 RCW, ruled unconstitutional by Leonard v. Spokane, 127 Wn. 2nd 195 (1995) 1982 Allocate a portion of regular property taxes for limited periods of time to assist in the financing of public improvements.
Community Facilities District Ch. 36.145 RCW 2010 Provide financing for community facilities and infrastructure.
Community Renewal Area Ch. 35.81 RCW 2002 Provide financing to rehabilitate blighted areas.
Cultural Arts, Stadium, and Convention District Ch. 67.38 RCW 1982 Construct, modify, renovate, and operate facilities for cultural arts, stadium, and convention uses.
Metropolitan Municipal Corporation Ch. 35.58 RCW; Ch. 36.56 RCW (assumption of powers) 1957 Provide essential services in metropolitan areas not adequately provided by existing agencies, including performing comprehensive planning. Other authorized responsibilities include water pollution abatement and providing water supply, garbage disposal, parks and recreation, and/or public transportation.
Port District Title 53 RCW 1911 Acquire, construct, maintain, operate, develop, and regulate system of harbor improvements and related facilities. Acquire and construct toll bridges, tunnels, and beltline railways. Establish industrial development districts.
Port District - Industrial Development District Ch. 53.25 RCW 1939 Provide funding for developing or redeveloping marginal area properties.
Public Facilities District Ch. 36.100 RCW (counties), Ch. 35.57 RCW (cities/towns) 1988 (counties), 1999 (cities/towns) Acquire, construct, and operate sports facilities, entertainment facilities, convention facilities or regional centers and related parking facilities.
Public Stadium Authority Ch. 36.102 RCW 1997 Develop a stadium and exhibition center.
Public Waterway District Ch. 91.08 RCW 1911 Provide funding for owners of lands bordering upon/accessible to any navigable water to improve waterways.
River and Harbor Improvement District Ch. 88.32 RCW 1903 Fund any river, lake, canal, or harbor improvement proposed by the federal government.

Environmental Protection Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Air Pollution Control Authority Ch. 70.94 RCW 1957, 1967 Statewide program of air pollution prevention and control.
Aquifer Protection Area Ch. 36.36 RCW 1985 Fund the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of subterranean water.
Conservation District Ch. 89.08 RCW 1939 Conserve soil resources, prevent floodwater and sediment damage.
Lake and Beach Management District Ch. 36.61 RCWRCW 35.21.403 1986 (lakes), 2008 (beaches) Improve and maintain lakes and beaches.
Metropolitan Municipal Corporation Ch. 35.58 RCW; Ch. 36.56 RCW (assumption of powers) 1957 Provide essential services in metropolitan areas not adequately provided by existing agencies, including water pollution abatement. Other authorized responsibilities include providing water supply, public transportation, garbage disposal, parks and recreation, and/or comprehensive planning services.
Shellfish Protection District - "Clean Water District" Ch. 90.72 RCW 1985 Protect shellfish industry from pollution.

Fire Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Fire Protection District Title 52 RCW 1933 Eliminate fire hazards and protect life and property outside cities/towns, except where cities/towns have annexed.
Regional Fire Protection Service Authority Ch. 52.26 RCW 2004 Provide regional fire protection service delivery, enhanced funding options, and new authority to address critical fire protection projects and emergency services.

Library Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Intercounty Rural Library District Sec. 27.12.090 RCW 1947 Provide library service throughout multiple counties.
Island Library District Sec. 27.12.400 - .450 1982 Provide library service for all areas outside of incorporated cities and towns on a single island only.
Library Capital Facility Area Ch. 27.15 RCW 1995 Provide funding for construction of capital library facilities.
Regional Library Sec. 27.12.080 RCW 1941 Provide library services to two or more counties or other governmental units through interlocal contract.
Rural County Library District Sec. 27.12.040 - .070 RCW 1941 Establish library district by joint action of two or more counties.
Rural Partial Library District Sec. 27.12.470 RCW 1993 Provide library services in a portion of the unincorporated area of a county.

Park and Recreation Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Metropolitan Park District Ch. 35.61 RCW 1907 Manage, control, improve, maintain, and acquire parks, parkways, boulevards, and recreational facilities.
Metropolitan Municipal Corporation Ch. 35.58 RCW; Ch. 36.56 RCW (assumption of powers) 1957 Provide essential services in metropolitan areas not adequately provided by existing agencies, including providing parks and parkways. Other authorized responsibilities include water pollution abatement and providing water supply, public transportation, garbage disposal, and/or comprehensive planning services.
Park and Recreation District Ch. 36.69 RCW 1957 Provide leisure time activities, facilities, and recreational facilities.
Park and Recreation Service Area RCW 36.68.400 - .620 1963 Finance, acquire, construct, improve, maintain, or operate any park, senior citizen activities center, zoo, aquarium, or recreational facility.
Joint Park and Recreation District Sec. 36.69.420 - .460 RCW 1979 Enable park and recreation district in two or more counties.
Irrigation and Rehabilitation District Ch. 87.84 RCW 1961 Convert certain irrigation districts to further recreational potential of larger lakes; improve inland lakes and shorelines.

Public Health and Hospital Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Cemetery District Sec. 68.52.090 - .330 RCW 1947 Acquire, establish, maintain, manage, improve, and operate cemeteries.
Emergency Medical Service District Sec. 36.32.480 RCW 1979 Provide and fund emergency medical services.
Health District Ch. 70.46 RCW 1945 Provide health services.
Mosquito Control District Ch. 17.28 RCW 1957 Abate or exterminate mosquitoes.
Public Hospital Capital Facility Area Ch. 70.265 RCW 2009 Provide funding for public hospital capital facilities or capital health care facilities for counties composed entirely of islands that receive medical services from a public hospital district but are not annexed to a hospital district.
Public Hospital District Ch. 70.44 RCW 1945 Own and operate hospitals and other health care facilities; provide hospital and other health care services.
Rural Public Hospital District Sec. 70.44.450 - .460 RCW 1992 Hospital district whose geographic boundaries do not include a city with a population greater than 50,000.
Urban Emergency Medical Service District Sec. 35.21.762 RCW 1994 Provide emergency medical services and funding for city or town located in two counties.

Public Housing Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Public Housing Authority Ch. 35.82 RCW 1939 Provide housing for low-income persons.
Joint City-County Housing Authority Sec. 35.82.300 1980 Housing authority created by one or more counties and any city or cities within any of those counties or in another county or counties.

School Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
School District Ch. 28A.315 RCW 1889 Establish, operate, and manage schools.
Joint School District Ch. 28A.323 RCW 1897 Establish, operate, and manage schools in an area that lies in more than one county

Transportation Districts

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
City Transportation Authority (Monorail) Ch. 35.95A RCW 2002 Construct and operate public monorail transportation system.
County Airport District Sec. 14.08.290 - .330 1945 Establish and operate airports or other air navigational facilities.
County Ferry District Sec. 36.54.110 - .200 RCW 2003 Provide passenger-only ferry service in all or part of a county.
County Public Transportation Authority Ch. 36.57 RCW 1974 Provide public transportation within a single county and all its cities and towns.
County Rail District Ch. 36.60 RCW 1983 Provide and fund improved freight rail and passenger rail service.
County Road District Sec. 36.75.060 RCW 1889 Provide revenue to establish, lay out, construct, alter, repair, improve, and maintain county roads.
Metropolitan Municipal Corporation Ch. 35.58 RCW; Ch. 36.56 RCW (assumption of powers) 1957 Provide essential services in metropolitan areas not adequately provided by existing agencies, including providing public transportation. Other authorized responsibilities include water pollution abatement and providing water supply, garbage disposal, parks and recreation, and/or comprehensive planning services.
Public Transportation Benefit Area Ch. 36.57A RCW 1975 Provide public transportation services with defined area.
Regional Transit Authority Ch. 81.112 RCW 1992 Develop and operate a high capacity transit system for two or more contiguous counties each over 400,000 population (Puget Sound).
Road and Bridge Service District Ch. 36.83 RCW 1983 Improve or provide capital funding for state highway improvements that a county or road district has the authority to provide.
Transportation Benefit District Ch. 36.73 RCW (general); Ch. 36.74 RCW (assumption of powers); Sec. 35.21.225 RCW (cities) 1989 Fund specific transportation projects identified in a local, state, or regional transportation plan.
Regional Transportation Investment District Ch. 36.120 RCW 2002 Provide regions with the ability to plan, select, fund, and implement (or contract for the implementation of) projects identified to meet the region's transportation and land use goals.
Unincorporated Transportation Benefit Area Sec. 36.57.100 RCW 1975 Provide transportation services to unincorporated areas of a county.

Utility Districts (Water, Sewer, Electricity, Etc.)

District Type Enabling Statute Year Created Purpose
Irrigation District Ch. 87.03 RCW 1890 Provide irrigation, develop electrical generating facilities, purchase and sell electricity, provide street lighting, provide sewer and domestic water systems.
Legal Authority (Hydroelectric) - Irrigation Districts Sec. 87.03.825 - .040 RCW 1983 Enable cooperative development of hydroelectric generating resources by cities, towns, irrigation districts, and public utility districts.
Metropolitan Municipal Corporation Ch. 35.58 RCW; Ch. 36.56 RCW (assumption of powers) 1957 Provide essential services in metropolitan areas not adequately provided by existing agencies, including providing water supply and garbage disposal. Other authorized responsibilities include water pollution abatement and providing parks and recreation, public transportation, and/or comprehensive planning services.
Operating Agency (Electricity Generation and Distribution) Ch. 43.52 RCW 1981 Generate, produce, transmit, deliver, exchange, purchase, or sell electric energy.
Public Utility District Title 54 RCW 1931 Conserve water and power resources; supply public utility service including water, electricity, sewer, and telecommunications.
Sewerage Improvement District
(Diking, Drainage, and Sewerage Improvement District)
Ch. 85.08 RCW; Ch. 85.15 RCWSec. 57.04.120 (districts in a county of 40,000 to 70,000 population); Sec. 57.04.130 (districts converted to water-sewer districts) 1923 Plan, construct, and operate facilities to collect, treat, and dispose of sanitary, industrial, and other sewage.
Solid Waste Collection District Ch. 36.58A RCW 1971 Mandatory collection of solid waste in unincorporated county.
Solid Waste Disposal District Sec. 36.58.100 - .150 RCW 1982 Provides for and funds solid waste disposal in counties under 1 million.
Television Reception Improvement District Ch. 36.95 RCW 1971 Construct, maintain, and operate television and FM radio translator stations.
Water-Sewer District (water-sewer district, water district, sewer district) Title 57 RCW 1913 (water), 1941 (sewer), 1971 (consolidated) Furnish water supply and/or wastewater collection; purchase and maintain firefighting equipment; provide street lighting.

Last Modified: September 06, 2016