Junior water rights holders on notice: protect instream flows, senior rights
|Water use restrictions on some rivers in Chehalis Basin prevent junior water right holders from diverting surface water for commercial uses, including agricultural field irrigation. The restrictions don’t affect water for homes or livestock.|
The result? Ecology has informed 93 junior water right holders that their access to surface water for commercial uses including irrigation may be curtailed until stream flows improve.
The affected rivers in the watershed are the Chehalis, Newaukum, Satsop, and Wynoochee. The limitations don’t affect rights to divert water for home use or to provide water for livestock. The restrictions do prevent junior water right holders from diverting surface water for commercial uses.
|Instream flow levels are not being met for the |
Newaukum and Wynoochee rivers, so junior surface
water right holders must curtail commercial water use.
Each summer, we are reminded that water is a precious, limited resource. One of the best water management tools for protecting stream flows is to set minimum flow levels in regulation. These are called “instream flows.”
An instream flow is like a senior water right for the stream and the resources that depend on it. In our role as water stewards, Ecology is required to ensure that adequate water is available to protect and preserve migrating fish, wildlife, recreation, aesthetics, water quality, and navigation.
Currently, instream flow levels are not being met for the Newaukum and Wynoochee rivers so junior surface water right holders must curtail commercial water use now. Those diverting waters from the Chehalis and Satsop have been alerted to their need to stay informed about flow levels and curtail use immediately if flows drop below the minimum threshold.
Curious to know more about water levels and instream flows? Water rights holders in the Chehalis River basin can check the status of river flows every day — and you can, too.
It’s easy to monitor the levels of these rivers online. If instream flows aren’t being met, an alert posts saying that reported flows are below the minimum:
Learn more about Washington water law.