Water Availability for Skagit Basin Landowners
Questions and Answers
The Skagit River Instream Flow Rule (WAC 173-503) went into effect April 14, 2001. The rule established instream flows to protect flow levels in the Skagit River and its tributaries. The rule was amended in 2006 to establish 25 surface and groundwater “reservations”, to allow future uninterruptible out-of-stream water uses. On October 3, 2013, the Washington Supreme Court overturned the 2006 amendment, ruling that the Department of Ecology (Ecology) cannot establish water reservations through rulemaking where water was previously set aside to support stream flows for fish. Without water reservations, water uses established after the adoption of the April 14, 2001 rule, including future uses, can be interrupted when dry spells impact protected stream flows. To address current and future water resource needs, Ecology is working with local governments, tribes, water utilities, and land owners to develop sustainable water supply solutions in the Skagit basin.
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