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Office of Columbia River

WRIA 32 (Walla Walla)

  • Overview
  • Supply
  • Demand
  • Supply & Demand
  • Instream
  • Management Context
  • Water Allocation

Overview of WRIA 32 (Walla Walla) Results

The tributary surface water supply forecast for Walla Walla is characterized mostly by significant increases from late fall through early spring and slight decreases in late spring and early summer.

Primary demands are irrigation and instream flow requirements, with much smaller municipal demands. Assuming no change in irrigated acreage, irrigation demands are forecasted to increase in in some months in the future (June, August, and October) and decrease slightly in other months, with small variations depending on the future economic scenarios considered. Municipal demands are projected to grow 21% by 2030. Because there are no adopted instream flows in Walla Walla at the mouth of the watershed, instream flows are shown as the highest quantified flow at any point for a given month, as specified in Chapter 173-532 WAC. For December through May, flows are shown at Walla Walla River at Detour road. For other months, when the Walla Walla River is closed to new uses, flows from other control points are shown.

If provided, additional water capacity as specified by the proposed projects in the Office of Columbia River "medium" scenario is not anticipated to increase agricultural irrigation water demand in this WRIA compared to 2030 irrigation water demand under the economic base case (a scenario of no additional capacity). Additional capacity will only increase demand in WRIAs where water is provided for new irrigated land.

In 2030, at the watershed scale, combined municipal and surface water irrigation demands and adopted instream flows are projected to outstrip unregulated tributary supply generated within the Washington portion of the watershed during average and dry years in June, and in most years for July through October. Upstream portions of the watershed outside of Washington provide additional supplies, but may also have additional demands. Modeling indicated that at the WRIA level there was insufficient water to serve all demands in every year between 1977 and 2006. The resulting unmet demand ranged from 19,589 to 64,692 ac-ft per year depending on yearly flow conditions, with an average of 44,257 ac-ft per year. Simulation of future insufficient water occurred in all the years for the middle climate scenario. The resulting unmet demand per year ranged from 19,679 to 69,149 with an average of 44,601 ac-ft per year. Due to data and resource constraints, the modeling of unmet demand did not consider curtailment of one water user in favor of another more senior water right holder. Although not shown here, unmetdemands due to a failure to meet adopted instream flows are shown in the technical report. Water shortages outside the scope of this analysis may also exist in localized areas, and over time periods within months.

Steelhead in the Walla Walla basin are part of the ESA-Threatened Middle Columbia steelhead population, while bull trout here are part of an ESA-Threatened Touchet/Walla Walla Oregon Recovery Unit. Summer Steelhead are primarily spawning in April-May, while spring Chinook spawn in the late summer and fall.


WRIA 32 Supply graphModeled historical (1977-2006) and 2030 surface water supply generated within the WRIA for dry (20th percentile, top), average (middle), and wet (80th percentile, bottom) flow conditions. The spread of 2030 flow conditions is due to the range of climate change scenarios considered. Supply includes current major reservoir operations for Yakima (WRIAs 37, 38, and 39); otherwise it is the unregulated supply, without consideration for reservoirs. Supplies are reported prior to accounting for demands, and thus should not be compared to observed flows.

Surface water supplies include only supplies generated on tributaries within the Washington portion of the watershed. They do not include water supplies that enter the WRIA from upstream portions of the watershed, nor do they include water supplies from the Snake River or Columbia River Mainstem. These water supplies are characterized in "Tier II: Supply" and "Washington's Columbia River Mainstem: Tier III results."


Historical water demand

Modeled historical (1977-2006) and 2030 irrigation water, municipal, and instream flow demands under average flow conditions, and under the middle climate change scenario considered. Forecast 2030 water demands are shown for three economic scenarios: low, medium, and high growth in the domestic economy and international trade. Ground water (GW, brown) and surface water (SW, dark green) irrigation demands are shown at the “top of crop” and include water that will actually be used by plants, as well as on-field losses based on irrigation type. Conveyance losses (light green) are estimated separately. Consumptive municipal demands (yellow) include self-supplied domestic use, but exclude self-supplied industrial use. Instream flows (blue) for both the historical and 2030 forecast are shown using adopted state instream flows or federal flow targets. When more than one instream flow exists at the sub-watershed level for a given month, the largest value (generally also the most downstream) was used to express instream flows at the WRIA level.

Future water demand

2030 forecasted water demands under the 2030 forecast economic base case (medium economic scenario, no additional water capacity, same as "2030 Medium" in the graph above), and under the 2030 medium water capacity scenario (with the addition of 200,000 ac-ft per year of proposed additional capacity). The medium water capacity scenario examined a specific set of water capacity projects across eastern Washington, and assumed that new surface water supplies would be used for two purposes: as replacement water for acreage in Odessa currently irrigated with groundwater, and to grow crops on land that is not currently irrigated. Irrigation water demand is shown under average flow conditions and for the middle climate change scenario considered. It includes groundwater and surface water demands, as well as conveyance losses, as above.

Supply & Demand

Supply & demand

Comparison of surface water supply, surface water irrigation demands, and municipal demand for 2030, using the baseline economic scenario, and the middle value of the range of climate change scenarios considered. Wet (80th percentile), average, and dry (20th percentile) flow conditions are shown for supply. The 80th, 50th, and 20th percentile conditions are also shown for irrigation demand using error bars. Demands and supplies are defined as above. Water curtailment is not considered.

Fish Status & Utilization by Species

Walla Walla fis status chart

Fish use of WRIA waters (provided by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Management Context

Adjudicated Areas Touchet River 
Dry Creek 
Walla Walla River 
Stone Creek
Doan Creek 
Watershed Planning Phase 4 (Implementation)
Adopted Instream Flow Rules YES (Chapter 173-532 WAC)
Fish Listed Under the Endangered Species Act* Middle Columbia Steelhead,
Snake River Basin Steelhead
Touchet/Walla Walla (Oregon Recovery Unit) Bull Trout  
[Columbia mainstem migratory corridor]
Ground Water Management Area NO
Ground Water Studies YES (references listed in WSU technical report)


*All species that spawn or rear in WRIA waters are identified. Species that migrate through WRIA waters are not individually identified, but migratory corridors for listed fish species that spawn and rear upstream are noted.

Water Allocation

Water Allocation graph

To give an indication of the amount of uncertainty related to water claims, permits, and certificate data, total annual quantities of water identified under state level water claims, permits, and certificates in Ecology's Water Rights Tracking System (WRTS) are provided, as well as information on the percentage of documents without information. Water documents that could be identified as exclusively non-consumptive uses (e.g. power, fish propagation) were removed from analysis. WRTS data does not include tribal or federal quantified or unquantified water rights.


Definitions used in this Forecast

Basin-Wide Results Tier 1 WRIA Results Overview Tier 2 Mainstem Results Tier 3 WDFW Instream Results


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