Department of Ecology News Release - March 22, 2016

State projects spotlighted at White House Water Summit
Yakima and Methow watershed solutions build sustainable water futures

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two projects that promote long-term water security in the state of Washington are being highlighted today during the White House Water Summit in conjunction with United Nations World Water Day.

Projects in the Yakima and Methow river basins led by the Washington Ecology Department’s Office of Columbia River are being touted as being in line with the President’s water sustainability goals to promote water solutions in the United States.

“In Washington state, we recognize the importance of long-term water security to both our environment and our economy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “These projects in Yakima and the Methow Valley represent the crucial balance of needs by protecting natural habitats and wildlife, while supporting family farms, businesses and residents.”

The Yakima Basin Integrated Plan is spotlighted in a report by the Family Farm Alliance as a case-study for finding creative water solutions that support better management of water for both economic purposes and environmental benefits. Kittitas Reclamation District manager Urban Eberhart is participating on behalf of the integrated plan.

The Methow Instream Flow Improvement Project (funded by Ecology in partnership with Trout Unlimited) is highlighted as a project that invests in updating aging water infrastructure, improves streamflows for imperiled salmon and steelhead, and provides the Town of Twisp and irrigators with a more reliable water supply.

“I’m thrilled that our efforts in Washington state are producing real results and getting recognized by the White House,” said Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon in Olympia. “It’s exciting to know that together with our partners we are solving complex water resource problems that are now models that can be emulated in watersheds nationally and internationally.”

In December, the White House announced its Public-Private Innovation Strategy to Build a Sustainable Water Future, following the global climate agreement in Paris. The announcement noted:

“As climate change affects our Nation’s water supplies, and our population continues to grow and shift, it will become increasingly important to develop and implement innovative, long-term strategies for making sure we have enough water when and where we need it. To succeed, these strategies must rely on expertise and perspectives from the federal, state, regional, local, and tribal levels, and from other stakeholder groups.”

The strategy mirrors goals of the Yakima Basin plan and efforts in the Methow watershed to boost water sustainability and long-term water security by increasing use of water-efficient and reuse technologies. These strategies are achieved through partnerships with farmers, industries, and communities to make efficient use of water—especially in water-stressed regions.

The White House plan estimates the United States has the potential to reduce water usage by 33 percent. 


Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications, 509-575-2610; @ecyCentral