Up to $40 million in grants will be available for projects intended to protect and enhance streamflows while providing water for rural homes in Washington.
The Washington Department of Ecology is accepting applications for its fourth round of streamflow restoration grants.
Funding is open to projects across the state, with priority given to projects located in watersheds identified in the Streamflow Restoration law. Other priorities include projects benefitting threatened or endangered salmon and other fish.
The current grants are intended to fund water storage projects, fish habitat improvements, water right acquisitions or improvements in water management and infrastructure.
In January 2018, the Legislature passed the Streamflow Restoration Act (RCW 90.94) to help improve streamflows. The law directed 15 planning groups to develop watershed plans that offset impacts from new domestic permit-exempt wells and achieve a net ecological benefit. The Legislature appropriated $300 million over 15 years to support projects that improve streamflows.
The law was in response to the Hirst decision, a 2016 Washington State Supreme Court decision that limited a landowner’s ability to get a building permit for a new home when the proposed source of water was a permit-exempt well.
Eligible applicants include tribal governments, public entities and non-profit organizations within Washington.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 29.
“This funding is making a critical difference in our ability to balance the water needs for rural communities and farms with the streamflow levels that salmon require to survive and thrive,” said Vanessa Brinkhuis, Ecology’s streamflow restoration grant unit supervisor. “We’re excited to continue to support these projects and expand our efforts to protect and restore streamflow in watersheds across our state.”
Brinkhuis said potential applicants who want to schedule pre-application meetings should do so before Feb. 15.
In preparation for the application process, Ecology is hosting a virtual applicant workshop. The workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, anyone interested is asked to please register in advance here.
For those unable to attend, there will be a recording of the workshop posted on the Ecology website no later than Jan. 19.
More details about the workshop and the application requirements can be found at: https://ecology.wa.gov/streamflowgrants.