Watershed Planning photo identifier

Watershed Management

Walla Walla - WRIA 32

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

link to WRIA 31 link to WRIA 35 link to WRIA 33 link to all WRIAs WRIA 32, Walla Walla

Grant funds expended and/or projected through June 2015



The Walla Walla watershed planning group completed several on-the-ground projects during the second year of Phase 4 implementation.  This included:

  • Installing over 80 signs in Walla Walla and Columbia counties identifying surface waters and watershed boundaries.
  • Restoring stream flows on Yellowhawk and Caldwell creeks.
  • Completing several large irrigation efficiency projects that have placed about 3 cfs in trust for the Touchet River.

Instream flow status

In August 2007, Ecology adopted amendments to Chapter 173-532 WAC - Water Resources Program for the Walla Walla River basin, WRIA-32. The amendment was a result of negotiations between Ecology, the planning group, and local stakeholders during much of 2006 and 2007.  Rulemaking also involved extensive public participation during pre-proposal workshops, formal hearings, and rule implementation workshops.

The key amendments include:

  • Instream flows on the Walla Walla River, Mill Creek, North Fork Touchet River, and Touchet River.
  • Closures for surface waters and the shallow gravel aquifer.
  • Limits of use and mitigation requirements for future permit-exempt ground water withdrawals.
  • Procedures for approving use of high flows for storage projects that benefit fish.

Ongoing projects in the basin include:

  • A smolt adult ratio study that will help identify the adequacy of stream flows needed for migrating salmonids.
  • A shallow aquifer recharge pilot project.
  • A study of surface and ground water that will include monitoring of shallow aquifer recharge sites to measure their effectiveness.

These projects are not only essential to the progress of the Walla Walla Water Management Initiative (below) but also for effective implementation and management of the newly amended water management and instream flow rule.

Walla Walla Water Management Initiative

To address the unique water challenges found in the Walla Walla watershed, local interests are working with Ecology to jointly develop the concept of the Walla Walla Water Management Initiative. The Initiative offers local entities the opportunity to pilot a local approach to water management. Basin entities have drafted a framework for an appropriate leadership and governance structure with legal status, responsibility, and authority.

The Ruckelshaus Center prepared two reports relating to the Water Management Initiative. The first report, prepared in January 2007, focused on the design and implementation of innovative water management efforts. The second report, completed in July 2007, provided an assessment of the watershed’s capacities for implementing water and fish improvements. Both documents are being used to design a proposal for a local leadership and governance structure. Representatives from the watershed will be presenting the 2009 Legislature a report and a legislative outline of the local organizational structure, its function and authority, and proposed mechanisms to address the bi-state flow protection issues.

Water Banking: Making Water Available for new uses; both in stream and out of stream.

In Washington State, water banking is a way to use the market to make water available for new uses, such as increasing stream flows and providing water for development. Most of the banking in our state uses the states Trust Water Rights Program.

Link to other resources, studies, data

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


Plan Website - Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership

WRIA 32 Status

  • Optional elements: water quality, habitat, instream flows, storage.
  • Currently in Phase 4: Implementation.