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CELP Water Data Proviso Update

Friday, February 9, 2024

This legislative session, CELP submitted an initial budget proviso that would be an important step in modernizing water law. We know that climate change is impacting our water availability due to changes in precipitation. To ensure adequate water is available to meet both consumptive out-of-stream uses and sufficient instream flows, new data, enhanced analytics, and a platform for information dissemination are needed. This requires a focused effort to modernize our water resource data.

Working together with The Department of Ecology’s Water Resource Management Team, Friday, February 9, 2024, CELP submitted a revised funding request for a database that would update existing Ecology data programs to allow for smoother information gathering and sharing. CELP intends this to be a first step into a more comprehensive system that would track streamflows, precipitation, and water right records in addition to the elements mentioned below.

 $411,000 of the of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2025 is provided for the department to initiate the development of a statewide web map tool to integrate Ecology water resources management databases. Data elements to integrate include water right records and geospatial information, mitigation and water banks, and metering data. This web map will provide the public with an interactive online mapping system, focused on water resource data that enables users to access, visualize, and use improved water data. 

  1. Ecology will consult with local and tribal governments to identify the most useful data elements and analytics to incorporate into an enhanced water resource enhancements. 

  2. Ecology shall provide a status update on the data integration project to the appropriate committees of the legislature and to the Office of Financial Management by June 30, 2025, which will report on: work completed to date, recommendations for priority tool enhancements to support decision-making, planned work for fiscal year 2026, and future budget needs required to complete the development of an enhanced water resource management tool and maintain it on an ongoing basis.

This revised proviso was not as extensive as CELP originally envisioned, mainly because it 1.) is limited to integrating only Ecology’s databases, 2.) omits the critical data metrics of precipitation, temperature and streamflows, and 3.)fails to ensure the database will be used to incorporate climate change impacts into local and regional plans. However, Ecology has assured us that this proviso is only a first step and that it will seek more funding in future years to develop an expanded and more useful database.

CELP believes that this is a solid first step toward better decision-making as we plan for the impacts of climate change on Washington’s waters.

You can view the original proviso here.

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