Dungeness Water Rights Seed First Water Exchange in Western Washington
Sequim, WA — With negotiations finally accomplished and operational details in place, Washington Water Trust and the Dungeness Water Users Association are proud to announce the purchase of 175 acre feet of water rights which will hydrate the Dungeness Water Exchange, a program of Washington Water Trust and provide mitigation credits for new water withdrawals.
The Dungeness Water Exchange is the first water exchange or water bank of its kind in western Washington. It provides mitigation in the Dungeness watershed to offset new water use as required by the 2013 Water Management Rule signed by the Department of Ecology (Ecology).
“This is a unique sale agreement because it includes the purchase of water rights and an agreement between the Dungeness Water Users Association and Washington Water Trust to work together to deliver water to aquifer recharge projects that will provide comprehensive mitigation across the Dungeness watershed,” said Amanda Cronin, administrator for the Dungeness Water Exchange. The Dungeness Water Users Association is the umbrella organization for the irrigation companies and districts in the Dungeness Valley near Sequim. Washington Water Trust is a nonprofit based in Seattle.
One acre foot is 325,851 gallons of water. The agreement for the purchase of 175 acre feet of mitigation water is divided into two portions:
- 45 acre feet and .76 cubic feet per second stays in the Dungeness River from August 15th to September 15th
- 130 acre feet and 2.2 cubic feet per second are available for shallow aquifer recharge projects between May 15th and July 15th
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has been in negotiations since 2009 to purchase this water. Although it is primarily intended for aquifer recharge and to support flows in the Dungeness River, it will also provide mitigation water for indoor and outdoor use in the Dungeness watershed.
“The progress in water management in the Dungeness with adoption of our instream flow rule is a sterling example of what can be accomplished when you have partnerships working toward a common goal of providing water for new homes and construction and water to support the natural environment,” said Tom Loranger, manager of Ecology’s Water Resources Program.
Since the Dungeness rule became effective in January of this year, Ecology has approved 16 mitigation certificates. Most of these have been for indoor water use for new home construction or home remodeling in the Dungeness watershed. Implementing aquifer recharge projects in cooperation with the Dungeness Water Users Association will ensure that mitigation meets Ecology’s legal requirement for offsetting impacts in the Dungeness River as well as small independent streams in the watershed.
“The signing of this agreement and the subsequent implementation of aquifer recharge projects will ensure that mitigation is available to the residents of the Dungeness watershed for many years to come,” added Amanda Cronin. “The Dungeness Water Users should be applauded for their efforts to ensure the success of the Dungeness Water Exchange. Starting up a water bank takes a lot of time and brainpower and the water users have contributed lots of both to make this work.”
Ben Smith, president of the Dungeness Water Users noted that, “As farmers, we have a long-term interest in the ecological and economic health of the Dungeness Valley. We were happy to work with WWT to shape this agreement and seed the Dungeness Water Exchange with mitigation that will support economic and environmental sustainability for many years into the future.”
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