Webinar Explores Lake Roosevelt Water Rights Adjudication

Webinar Explores Lake Roosevelt Water Rights Adjudication

By: Andy Dunau, Executive Director, Lake Roosevelt Forum

Since implementation of Washington’s water code in 1917, adjudication is the statutory tool used to quantify and prioritize state water right claims. The Washington Department of Ecology’s 2020 “Water Resources Adjudication Assessment Legislative Report” identified Lake Roosevelt as one of two priority watersheds to resolve water rights uncertainties and disputes through adjudication.

The Lake Roosevelt Forum is partnering with the Department of Ecology, the Columbia Basin Development League and others to plan a spring ‘Upper Columbia Water Resources Webinar’ to explore federal, state, tribal, community and stakeholder knowledge and perspectives regarding the state’s recommendation. Stay tuned for more information on a webinar date and how to register.

Governor Inslee’s biennium budget submitted to the state legislature includes funding to proceed with water rights adjudication for Lake Roosevelt and the Nooksack watersheds. The Lake Roosevelt adjudication would include the Upper Columbia River impounded above Grand Coulee Dam and the watershed drainage (WRIA 58) between Kettle Falls and the Spokane River at Fort Spokane.

Andy Dunau, Executive Director of the Lake Roosevelt Forum said, “we’ll schedule the webinar to be after the legislative session so everyone is clear how much funding is available for Ecology to proceed.” Regardless of funding, webinar sponsors agree it is a good time for stakeholders to better understand how adjudication works, timeframes, perspectives, and whether adjudication could affect Columbia Basin irrigation, the Columbia River Treaty, or tribal appropriation of water.

Additional presentations will include updates on infrastructure projects that are transitioning up to 90,000 acres of farmland from the declining Odessa aquifer in the Columbia Basin Project to surface water irrigation.

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