Watershed Management photo identifier

Watershed Management

Lower Skagit-Samish/Upper Skagit - WRIA 03 and 04

This page is being maintained as an archive of past information and will not be updated.

Grant funds expended and/or projected through June 2015



The planning group wrote a draft watershed plan for the Samish Basin in December 2004.  However, it was never finished or voted on by the planning group, which has disbanded.

Instream flow

The Skagit River Basin Instream Resources Protection Program Rule (WAC 173-503) went into effect on April 14, 2001. It established instream flows throughout the basin to protect flow levels in streams. In 2006 the rule was amended to establish finite “reservations” of surface and groundwater for future out-of-stream uses. The reservations provided uninterruptible (year-round) water supplies for new agricultural, residential, commercial/industrial and livestock uses, distributed among 25 subbasins.

On October 3, 2013, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that Ecology cannot set aside reservations of water through adoption of water management rules where water was previously set aside to support stream flows for fish. Without water reservations, later water uses can be interrupted when dry spells impact the protected stream flows. Ecology found in 2006 that limited reservations would not substantially harm fish populations. The Swinomish Tribe challenged the establishment of the reservations in 2008 and appealed a Thurston County Superior Court finding in Ecology’s favor in 2010.

Outside links, publications, studies, data

Please send additions or corrections to Chris Anderson, (360) 407-6634.

Skagit River near Mount Vernon

WRIA 03 and 04 Status

  • Watershed planning stopped at phase 3.