Ecology invests $20 million to help waterways; includes local project

A new grant program through the Washington Department of Ecology will invest up to $20 million across the state to support local projects to protect rivers and improve streamflows. This includes money for a local project.

In January 2018, the Washington Legislature created the grant program as part of the Streamflow Restoration law that seeks to protect rivers and streams while providing water for rural homes.

Ecology evaluated 46 applications in this first round of the 15-year program and selected 15 projects in 11 watersheds for funding.

Priority was given to projects that will acquire existing water rights to offset new uses, develop infrastructure to store and release water, and alter how water is managed to align availability with demand.

“We’re excited to invest in local solutions to water supply challenges,” said Mary Verner, manager of Ecology’s Water Resources program. “These grants will help enhance and restore watersheds for threatened and endangered fish, and balance the need for secure water supplies.”

Locally, this will include over $75,000 for the Grays Harbor Conservation District to do an “In-Stream Restoration Pilot Project” for streamflow improvement

Other highlighted projects include:

  •         Clallam County Community Development – Up to $4 million for an off-channel storage project that will benefit aquifer recharge and streamflows in the Dungeness watershed.
  •         Whatcom County – More than $700,000 to move water to a critical stream to support restoration of fish habitat.
  •         Spokane and Stevens countiesFunding to purchase senior water rights, valued at approximately $1 million in each county, to offset water use associated with rural growth and development.
  •         Nisqually Land Trust – $1.3 million to protect floodplains that provide valuable recharge to groundwater hydraulically connected to surface streams.

A complete list of applicants and funded projects is available online.

From Ecology:

More than two-thirds of Ecology’s budget goes to Washington communities through grant and loan programs that support environmental projects. The Streamflow Restoration grant program is the newest funding opportunity offered by Ecology through the Legislature’s authorization in RCW 90.94.

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