Water banking grants

In July 2021, the Legislature provided up to $14 million in funding to buy water for development of water banks in rural headwater counties. This funding will help public entities and their partners preserve water rights in their basin for local use and to protect streamflows.

Grant funding will be available to projects located in an eligible county. The application period opens Nov. 17, 2021

Communities in headwater basins are increasingly concerned with the potential impacts of large water right transfers that move water rights far downstream and out of the basin. Once a water right is transferred downstream, it is difficult to later transfer that water right back to the headwater county. This new funding will help eligible applicants develop local water banks and protect streamflow. One-third of all water rights acquired under this program will be set aside strictly for permanent instream use to support streamflows and aquatic resources.

Information for potential applicants

Grants will fund the development of water banks in eligible counties. Funds will be used to purchase water rights ready for purchase as part of a water banking project proposal.

Grant awards may not exceed $2 million per applicant. At a minimum, applicants must demonstrate the following eligibility requirements to qualify for grant funding:

  • Status as a public entity or in a formal partnership with a public entity
  • Sufficient capacity and expertise to set up and operate a water bank
  • A valid interest to purchase a specific water right that is adequate for use in a water bank and agree to change the water right’s purpose of use to instream flow and mitigation as part of the project
  • Agree to set aside one-third of the purchased water right for instream flow benefiting fish and wildlife

Applications are being accepted

We will be accepting applications from Nov. 17, 2021, until all funds are awarded, or until funding expires on June 30, 2023. We have published our pilot water banking grant guidelines. The water banking pilot grant funding page has more information on how to apply.

Consultation meetings

We are offering consultation meetings for potential applicants to discuss the details of their water banking project with agency staff before submitting an application. We will meet requests in the order they are received and cannot guarantee meetings within a certain timeframe. See grant guidelines for additional information. 

To request a consultation meeting, email WaterBankingGrants@ecy.wa.gov.  Include “meeting request” in the subject line of your email.

Public comment opportunity

As grant applications are submitted for funding consideration, we will post summaries of water bank proposals for a 30-day public comment period. We will review all comments received.