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Lake and Beach Management Districts

This page provides a general overview of lake and beach management districts in Washington State, including relevant statutes, formation procedures, and examples of local provisions.


Chapter 36.61 RCW authorizes cities, towns, and counties to create local improvement districts for lake improvements and beach management. The purpose of the lake and beach district legislation is to establish a governmental mechanism by which property owners can embark on a program of lake or beach improvement and maintenance.

A lake or beach management district may: assess property, issue bonds; control or remove aquatic plants and vegetation; improve water quality; control water levels; treat and divert storm water; control agricultural waste; study lake or marine water quality problems and solutions; clean and maintain ditches and streams entering the lake or marine waters or leaving the lake; and monitor air quality.


  • Ch. 36.61 RCW - Lake and Beach Management Districts (Counties)
  • RCW 35.21.403 - Authority to establish lake and beach management districts, as provided in Ch. 36.61 RCW (Cities and Towns)
  • WAC 173-26-231 - Shoreline modifications - (3)(a) (iii)(E) Provisions for specific shoreline modifications. When any structural shoreline stabilization measures are demonstrated to be necessary, pursuant to above provisions.....Mitigate new erosion control measures, including replacement structures, on feeder bluffs or other actions that affect beach sediment-producing areas to avoid and, if that is not possible, to minimize adverse impacts to sediment conveyance systems. Where sediment conveyance systems cross jurisdictional boundaries, local governments should coordinate shoreline management efforts. If beach erosion is threatening existing development, local governments should adopt master program provisions for a beach management district or other institutional mechanism to provide comprehensive mitigation for the adverse impacts of erosion control measures.

Formation of Lake and Beach Management District

A lake or beach management district may be initiated by a resolution of intention by any city, town, or county legislative authority or by a petition signed by 10 landowners or the owners of at least 20% of the acreage of the proposed district. The resolution of intention designates the number of the proposed district and sets a hearing date (RCW 36.61.030).

Hearing on Formation of Lake or Beach Management District

A hearing must be scheduled at least 30 days and no more than 90 days after the adoption of a resolution, unless an emergency exists. Notice of hearing is to be published at least twice in newspaper of general circulation in the proposed district and mailed to landowners and the departments of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources, and Ecology. If the original proposal is altered, an amended resolution of intention must be passed and property owners given a new notice (RCW 36.61.030-.060).

Election to Form a Lake or Beach Management District

The legislative authority adopts a resolution submitting the question of creating the lake or beach management district to owners of land within the proposed district. The election is by mail ballot. Votes are weighted based on estimated special assessment (one vote per dollar of estimated assessment) (RCW 36.61.070-.090).

Passage of Proposition to Form Lake or Beach Management District

Passage of the proposition requires a simple majority of votes cast. If the proposition is approved, the legislative authority adopts an ordinance creating the lake or beach management district. Notice of district's creation must be published within 10 days of adopting the ordinance (RCW 36.61.090 - .100).

Finance - Special Assessment Roll Procedures

An election is required if assessments exceed 110 percent of that estimated in the resolution initiating the district. A proposed special assessment roll is prepared and hearing is held on the assessment roll. The legislative authority must confirm and approve a special assessment roll by adoption of a resolution. The legislative authority may provide, by ordinance, for a committee of the legislative body or an officer (hearing examiner) to hear objections, act as a board of equalization, and make recommendations to the full legislative authority without a hearing on the assessment roll. If special assessment roll is amended to raise any special assessment or to include omitted property, a new public hearing must be held.

Objection must be made in writing and filed with the governing body prior to the public hearing. If authority is delegated, the process for appeals to the legislative body must be provided by ordinance. Appeal to courts must be made within 10 days after notice of resolution confirming assessment roll has been published (RCW 36.61.115 - .250).

Example of Appeals Process

Governance of Lake and Beach Management District

No governance is statutorily specified. However, many jurisdictions have set up advisory committees. See examples below.

Examples of Citizen Information and Resources

Examples of Local Provisions

  • Federal Way
    • Lake Management Districts Webpage
    • Ordinance No. 03-452 (2003) - Creates Steel Lake management district for aquatic vegetation management, community education, and related projects. District will last 10 years, with assessments indexed to inflation. Includes resolutions of intent, calling for election, and establishing advisory committee.
  • Mason County
    • Lake Management District for Island Lake Formation Documents - Includes Budget Proposal (2012), Resolution No. 35-12 (2012), which submits establishment of district to vote from property owners, and Ordinance No. 49-12 (2012) creating district
    • Resolution No. 61-12 (2012) - Prescribing interest and penalties for late payments of rates and charges set under RCW 36.61.270 for Lake Management Districts created pursuant to Ch. 36.61 RCW
  • Sammamish Ordinance No. O2001-93 (2001) - Creates Beaver Lake management district for water quality monitoring, community education, and other projects. District will last 5 years, with properties divided into two assessment zones. Includes resolution of intent and other related resolutions.
  • Stevens County Ordinance No. 2018-05 (2018) - Creates new Loon Lake management district for five-year term, replacing expiring district, for control of Eurasian milfoil and other noxious aquatic weeds; includes resolutions of intent, calling for election, establishing assessment rates, and creating advisory committee.

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Last Modified: January 31, 2022