Local Water Management

Local Water Management

Local Water Management

I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.

The Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership is Washington state’s pilot local water management program that works with willing landowners, land, and water right holders in Washington’s portion of the Walla Walla Basin on non-regulatory solutions to low stream flow issues. Phil Neumann, Program Director for the WWWMP, says that water banking is one of their primary water management programs.

NEUMANN: Washington, like most other western states a water right returns to the state if it isn’t used for a period of 5 years or more. So, even if a person wants to conserve water, to use their resource more wisely, they have to be able to prove full use of their water right in order to maintain it. So we run our water banking program to really address this issue head-on; if people don’t want to use any portion of their water right, all they have to do is just put it in the bank to prevent future relinquishment.

Currently they have over 15,000 acre feet banked with the program under 112 individual agreements. Neumann says that water banking is a fairly simple process for landowners.

NEUMANN: Banking typically starts with a short consultation to get on the same page about water rights and land ownership. The water rights holder then fills out an application specifying how much to bank and until when; our board reviews it, approves the application at the upcoming board meeting. These agreements can be modified or terminated at any point in the future at the request of the water right holder, so they’re very flexible.

For more information on WWWMP’s water banking program visit wallawallawatershed.org.

NEUMANN: The goal of this will be eventually to have this framework be applied to future management both here and elsewhere in other water-scarce basins in Washington.

That’s Washington Ag Today.

I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.

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