Water banks

Water banks exist in many forms across the western United States, but they all share a common goal: to move water between buyers and sellers to where it is needed most. Water banks in Washington provide mitigation for new uses by setting aside a water right so it can be allotted to new uses that would otherwise impair existing water rights.

Establishing water banks in Washington

Establishing a water bank begins with a consultation between us and a would-be banker (usually a water right holder or broker). The banker must have a water right to set aside and a banking proposal that demonstrates the bank’s ability to meet real water needs.  If we agree that the proposal is feasible, we negotiate a water banking agreement that describes how the water bank will be established and how it will operate. The agreement requires that at least one water right is set aside by conveying the right to our Trust Water Rights program so that it remains in good standing and can be used to mitigate new uses.

We create water banks to:

  • Support public health by creating reliable water supplies
  • Promote the state’s economic well-being
  • Preserve natural resources and aesthetics
  • Promote water conservation

Active water banks in Washington

We track water bank information according to RCW 90.42, including water bank accounting, balances and fees for the following basins: