How the Climate Crisis Will Change the Flow of Water in Washington
As climate change becomes part of our daily experience, it will have significant impacts on water availability in Washington State.
Find out how Washington compares to other states in it’s preparedness for the challenges we are sure to face.
How Washington State Must Adapt
Modernize Our Water Law
Like all western states, the foundation of Washington water law are the principles of prior appropriation (first in time, first in right) and beneficial use (use it or lose it). These policies no longer reflect the needs of our communities and do not take into account the changing climate.
Protect Our Drinking Water
Over 60% of Washington’s drinking water comes from groundwater; aquifers are what store that water. Access to sufficient, safe, and affordable water for personal and domestic use is a human right. As our state’s population swells and water becomes more scarce, our government has the responsibility to ensure the protection of that right. Currently, there is a dangerous loophole that—has already caused or is a threat to—wells running dry across the state.
Establishing adequate instream flows—essentially a water right granted to the river itself—is one of the best legal tools we have to ensure sustainable water management and build climate resiliency. This base protection helps guarantee the longevity of our water resources and provides assurance that they will continue to bolster our economy and keep Washington uniquely beautiful indefinitely.