Communities around the state will soon receive grant funds to support projects that protect rivers and improve streamflows. The Washington Department of Ecology is investing up to $22 million in 21 high priority projects located in 16 watersheds.
The funding will support projects to increase water storage capacity, improve fish habitat, acquire water rights, and improve water management and infrastructure.
“In addition to investing in our communities and economies, these grants show that improving streamflows benefits everyone in Washington,” said Laura Watson, Ecology’s director. “These investments will help our threatened salmon, and ensure that rural communities have access to the water they need.”
Ecology received 63 competitive applications from across the state. All applications went through a fair and rigorous review process and meet criteria outlined by the law and by Ecology. This is the second round of the 15-year program. The final funding amount dispersed for these grants will be determined following approvals of project plans. Some projects selected for funding include:
- Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation – $1 million to boost streamflows and aid the recovery of endangered fish after wildfires in the Okanogan and Methow river subbasins.
- Spokane County – $1.2 million to restore wetlands, store water, and recharge groundwater to improve and enhance streamflows.
- City of Tacoma – Approximately $380,000 to conduct a feasibility study that will improve urban streamflows and restore wetland habitat.
- King County – Approximately $500,000 to improve habitat using beaver dams in the Upper Green River watershed.
A complete list of applicants and funded projects is available online.
Many of the 16 projects funded under the 2019 inaugural grant round have been completed or are well underway, such as a land acquisition project completed by the Nisqually Land Trust.
“Ecology’s streamflow restoration grant provided critical funding to permanently protect the property we consider the ’crown jewel’ of the Nisqually River,” said Joe Kane, Nisqually Land Trust executive director. “It places 174 acres and nearly a mile of salmon-producing shoreline into permanent protection – the longest run of undeveloped and previously unprotected shoreline on the entire mainstem of the river. This property provides outstanding habitat for all five salmonid species native to the Nisqually Watershed, including two threatened species, Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.”
The Washington Legislature created this grant program as part of the 2018 Streamflow Restoration law that seeks to protect rivers and streams, while also providing water for rural homes. The grant program helps state and local agencies, tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations put local plans and projects into action.