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Water Acquisitions Program

We use the Washington Water Acquisitions Program to increase flows in streams with vulnerable fish and wildlife. We accomplish this by using state and federal funds to purchase or lease water rights from willing sellers, allowing the water to remain in the stream. We also acquire water rights to mitigate the impacts of water uses. 

We partner with:

Washington’s 16 most-critical watersheds

The Water Acquisitions Program is focused on the 16 basins identified in the statewide salmon recovery strategy. Although low flows occur in many areas of the state, these basins are known to have insufficient flows to adequately support salmon populations at certain times of the year:

Eastern Washington

Western Washington

Lower Yakima
Middle Snake
Upper Yakima
Walla Walla

Mitigating for new uses

We also use the Water Acquisitions Program to purchase water rights to use as mitigation for new uses in water-short areas. Using state funds appropriated by the Legislature, we purchase water rights from willing sellers to make mitigation available to offset new uses. Sometimes we will establish a water bank as part of the process.

The acquired water rights are placed into the Trust Water Rights Program, where they are protected from relinquishment. Recent court decisions have changed the rules about how mitigation can be used to offset new uses. These changes limit the opportunities for successful mitigation.