WRIA 49 Okanogan Watershed

Okanogan River flowing through a valley

Okanogan River. Photo Credit: United States Forest Service

This is a collection of water availability information for the Okanogan Watershed.

WRIA 49 Okanogan Watershed

The Okanogan Watershed, also known as WRIA 49, is defined as the area that drains to the Okanogan River. It is located in Northeastern Washington, in a central portion of Okanogan County.

The Okanogan River’s major tributaries are Osoyoos Lake and the Similkameen River. The watershed includes various other tributary streams such as Antoine, Bonaparte, Chewiliken, Siwash, Tonasket, and Tunk creeks.

Existing water rights

Water rights have been issued in the Okanogan watershed for over 100 years, and as a result most water in the watershed is already legally spoken for or “appropriated.”

Instream flow rule

Instream flow rules are an element of water and river management that help maintain healthy ecosystems that support fish, communities, and economies. WRIA 49 has an Instream Flow Rule adopted to preserve the uses and values of individual rivers and streams within the WRIA. 

Streamflow restoration

In 2018, the Legislature passed a streamflow restoration law in response to the Hirst decision. The law helps improve streamflows to levels necessary to support robust, healthy, and sustainable native fish populations while providing water for homes in rural Washington. It directs 15 local planning groups, including one in WRIA 49, to develop watershed plans that offset impacts from new domestic permit-exempt wells and achieve a net ecological benefit within the watershed.

Go deeper

Find more information about water availability in WRIA 49 including acquiring water, finding existing water rights, and learning more about instream flow rules in our Water Availability Focus Sheet linked below: