Skagit basin water availability

Water is a limited resources in the Skagit basin. We work with local partners to pursue long-term water supply solutions for property owners as part of instream flow rule implementation.

Mitigation programs

We work with local partners to develop and administer regional mitigation options for the basin. To stay updated about these projects, please sign up for our Skagit Basin Water Solutions email list.

Skagit River Basin Mitigation Program 

In 2020, we purchased water from Seattle City Light in order to provide a legal and reliable water supply for hundreds of existing homes and businesses with legally uncertain water supplies. We also developed the Skagit River Basin Mitigation Program, which provides water for limited new domestic uses in Skagit County.

Big Lake Water Association domestic water mitigation program

The Big Lake program can provide a legal right to water for homes north of Big Lake along Nookachamps Creek, a tributary of the Skagit River. We are jointly operating the program with Skagit County.

Options for new uses

Water availability varies by location. Depending on your location, and your water needs, there are several ways to potentially secure water for a new water use in the Skagit River basin:

  • Connect to a public water supply.
  • Mitigate the impact on instream flows from new uses.
    • We have several approved mitigation programs that benefit landowners seeking to build homes in the Skagit Basin, as described above.
  • Store water in a cistern. You can collect and store rainwater or, depending on your location, you may be able to have water delivered. For more information, consult with:
    • Skagit County Planning and Development Services at 360-416-1320.
    • Snohomish County Planning and Development Services at 425-388-3311.
  • Drill a well in a location that has no impact on the river.
    • We have identified a groundwater availability zone near Bayview. In this area, groundwater drains to saltwater, so small domestic withdrawals have no effect on the river.
    • This water availability area applies to new domestic uses. See the water availability zone map (PDF) or Skagit County’s interactive map. Contact Skagit County Planning and Development Services at 360-416-1320 for more information.
  • Change or transfer an existing water right.
    • Water rights are property rights than can be changed or transferred. A valid water right may be transferred to a new location and use so long as there is no new or different impact on a stream. Schedule a pre-application meeting to discuss the process with our staff.