Water Resources photo identifier

Water Resources

Water Market

A “water market” is a general term for mechanisms used to acquire and redistribute water.  Many Washington watersheds are faced with a shortage of water to meet existing and future water needs.  Water transfers are one of the most important sources of water for new uses, moving water (on paper, not physically) to where it is needed.

Ecology utilizes three programs to facilitate a water market.  They are the Trust Water Rights Program, Washington Water Banks and the Water Acquisition Program.

Trust Water Rights Program

Protecting water rights for future uses

The Washington State Trust Water Rights Program provides a way to legally hold water rights for future uses without the water right relinquishing.  Water can be held in trust for both environmental (“instream”) and human (“out-of-stream”) uses, either permanently or temporarily.  Water held in trust retains its original priority date.

The Trust Water Rights Program is used to implement the Water Acquisition Program and for holding water for Water Banking activities.

Public Notice

Public notice is provided via the web for Trust Water Right Donations and for Trust Water Right Short-term Leases.

Washington Water Banks

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

In Washington state, water banking is making water available for new uses and increasing stream flows.  Most of the banking in our state requires use of the State’s Trust Water Rights Program, which requires Ecology to hold water rights in exchange for performing banking activities; these rights do not relinquish. Water banking is a way to move water where it is needed most.

Water Acquisition

Increasing Stream Flows in Critical River Basins

In 2003, the state launched the Washington Water Acquisition Program, a voluntary program to increase stream flows in 16 watersheds with vulnerable salmon and trout populations. The program is backed by strong interest and support from local, state, federal and tribal governments and private entities. State agencies involved include the departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife and Washington Conservation Commission.


Central Regional Office
Kelsey Collins (Lead)
Department of Ecology
1250 W. Alder Street
Union Gap,  WA 98903-0009


Innovative Water Transfers - Western Governors' Association  December 3, 2012

Protecting Local Economies - A legislative report by Lawrence J. MacDonnell, P.C. Boulder, Colorado November 30, 2008


Focus on Water Banking

Focus on Water Banking

Reports to the Legislature - Water Banking

2012 Report
2010 Report
2008 Report
2006 Report
2004 Report

Water Banking Workshops

Workshop materials

Analysis of Water Banks in the Western States

July 2004 Report - “Analysis of Water Banking in the Western States”

Water Smart, Not Water Short - 5 Ways to Secure Water for Washington′s Future

Climate Change - Global Warming in Washington State

Issue Up-close: Managing our Water Successfully