The Partnership purchases water rights from willing Washington landowners as a way to increase streamflows in the Basin.
The Problem: The Walla Walla Basin is over-appropriated. In other words, water rights have been issued for more water than is available. This has historically led to a seasonal pattern of streams and rivers running low or completely dry as water users strive to satisfy their demands and/or run water to prevent potential relinquishment. Low flows create a significant threat to Endangered Species Act listed fish in the basin, which can trigger (and has triggered) federal government involvement and regulation of the Basin's irrigators.
The Solution: The Partnership (local community/government) works to increase flow levels by purchasing or leasing water rights from willing water users and placing them instream, to benefit fish and water quality.
Some Details: The water leased or purchased goes into Washington State's Trust Water Right Program with the alternative purpose of "instream flow." The trusting of water rights allows water to be protected for its benefits to aquatic ecosystems. Other junior users cannot access the water--it is truly benefiting the fish. The Department of Ecology will do a water rights review in order to ensure the water right is accurate and real and worth the money that will be paid out. The Participant can ascertain what that review might entail well before any official decision, and of course can withdraw at any time, even before the review begins. Partnership Staff and consultants can help you determine what your water right could potentially be worth.
If you are interested in selling all or a portion of your water right, or just leasing it, consider a transfer to instream flow as an option. Please contact Partnership Staff for more information.