Up to $10.7 million is still available for water banking projects

Five additional counties now eligible

Ecology’s Water Banking Pilot Grants have undergone some recent changes.

The grants were previously restricted to counties with headwaters of a major watershed within their borders. This year’s legislative session removed the headwater restriction. Five additional counties are now able to apply including Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Island, and San Juan counties. The funding cap per application has also increased from $2 million to $4 million thanks to a budget proviso from the state Legislature effective March 29, 2024.

Ecology has published updated funding guidelines with the recent changes to help applicants prepare and submit grant applications.

What are water banking grants and why do we need them?

The Water Banking Pilot Grants program was created in 2021 when the Legislature provided $14 million in funding to help public entities and their partners preserve water rights in their basin for local use and streamflow.

The grants fund the purchase of existing water rights to create local water banks using Ecology’s Trust Water Right Program. One-third of each water right purchased with this funding must be permanently dedicated instream to support streamflows and aquatic resources.

To be eligible for these pilot grants, an applicant must be a public entity or partner with a public entity. Applicants must also exhibit expertise and capacity to develop and maintain a water bank. They must be able to secure a valid interest to purchase a water right and show the water rights are adequate for the intended use.

Ecology began accepting grant applications for the second grant round on August 1, 2023, and the funding remains open until all funds are awarded or until the funding opportunity closes on June 30, 2025. Visit our Water Banking Pilot Grants webpage for more information on how to apply.

Ecology still has up to $10.7 million remaining to distribute through this program.

Have any water banks been funded through this grant program?

Funding was offered to Chelan County, Okanogan Conservation District and Kittitas County for eligible water banking projects:

  • Chelan County Water Bank Development and Water Right Acquisition, Chelan County, $1,738,350.
  • Okanogan County Water Bank Development and Water Right Acquisition, Okanogan Conservation District $932,723.
  • Acquisition for Kittitas County Bank Expansion, Kittitas County, $595,000.
  • Okanogan County Water Bank (OCWB) Acquisition of Barkley Water Right, Okanogan Conservation District, $941,800 (funding offered, pending grant agreement negotiations).