MOUNT VERNON –
A new water bank will provide a legal right to water for nearly 100 homes along Nookachamps Creek, a tributary of the Skagit River, while protecting streamflows.
The Department of Ecology and Skagit County are jointly operating the bank, which Ecology created by purchasing water rights from a local utility. The bank repurposes those water rights for household use along Nookachamps Creek between the Skagit River and Big Lake.
Priority will be given to 17 existing homes that do not have a legal source of water following a 2013 state Supreme Court ruling
. The rest of the bank’s water will be available for new uses on a first-come, first-served basis. In total, the bank will accommodate about 96 residential connections.
“We appreciate Ecology’s efforts to remove the hurdles that prevented property owners from accessing water in the Nookachamps Creek area,” said Ken Dahlstedt, Chair of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners. “The 17 existing homeowners stuck in limbo can legally access water, along with other property owners in the area.”
“Our long-term work with the county, tribes and stakeholders has paid off. This bank helps balance the needs of people and the environment,” said Tom Buroker, director of Ecology’s Northwest Region Office. “We’re grateful for Skagit County’s partnership on this important project.”
The water bank is part of Ecology’s ongoing water supply work in the Skagit basin. In 2017, Ecology announced a water availability zone in the Bayview area, where new water uses would not impact the Skagit River. Ecology is also pursuing purchase of other senior water rights to potentially provide mitigation in other areas of the Skagit watershed.