Water we up to? Stay in the know about stream flows by signing up for our e-news.

Posted in:

Local relationship building pays off

Staff Photo
by Washington Water Trust

Author: James Kraft, Executive Director

We have good news to report from eastern Washington. We recently closed a major water right acquisition in the Walla Walla River Basin and streamflow monitoring is showing that our long-term efforts to keep the Teanaway River flowing in the face of climate change and drought are succeeding.

After years of working closely with a local landowner, WWT acquired two water rights that were allowing the use of Walla Walla River water to irrigate 55 acres. These water rights, purchased with support from the Washington State Department of Ecology, will now be placed in the state’s Trust Water Rights Program, meaning that this water will permanently be protected instream for fish and the ecosystem. Every drop protected instream in the Walla Walla basin is a big deal as it is a river system facing many demands on its water.

The Walla Walla River.

In addition to this success in the Walla Walla basin, we also received good news from flow monitoring stations on the Teanaway River. With the Yakima River basin in a drought emergency, flows were starting to fall below the level necessary for fish to move up and down the river, particularly at a critical riffle.

Needing to boost flows, WWT approached local farmers with whom we have built close relationships over years to set up dry-year leases—emergency one-month water leases from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15 (an important time for fish) where irrigation is halted so that water can stay instream instead. These dry-year leases combined with other water we have protected instream and some additional curtailment of junior water rights holders by the Department of Ecology means the Teanaway is flowing with enough water to support fish passage during this time of drought!

The Teanaway River shows low flows on Thurs, Aug. 10, 2023. We set up dry-year leases with local farmers to keep water instream from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15.

These successes would not have been possible without the support of our community—thank you! You can see more of the freshwater restoration you are making possible around the state by checking out our 2022 Annual Report.

If you would like to support the restoration of rivers like the Walla Walla, Teanaway, and many others around Washington, you can make a tax-deductible donation to Washington Water Trust today.