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Water for Washington

Washington's rivers and streams are critical for farming, industry, recreation and our everyday existence. Our rivers and streams also sustain wildlife and fish, notably salmon, which are central to Native American culture and important to our state’s economy.

Our goal is to establish basic safeguards for streams throughout Washington and secure reforms in state law that bring balance to water management.

What is at stake

Snohomish RiverThe rivers and streams of  Washington are important to the state's past, present and future. They have been an engine of the economy, a means of transport, and a source for some of the largest salmon runs on the West Coast.  Today, however, we face very real water shortages on both sides of the Cascades.

The old system is broken

While there are laws and policies in place in Washington state that deal with water, many date from the early 1900s and favor using more water above environmental protection. In large parts of the state, too much water has already been given away, leaving rivers and streams with inadequate flows.  In addition, those environmental protections we do have are often not enforced, and illegal water use contributes to our growing water  management problems.

If we don’t improve the way we manage Washington’s water, we will face serious consequences, and two major forces, global warming and population growth, are adding unprecedented urgency to the need for better water management.

We can do better

The good news is that there are reasonable solutions within our reach. Working in partnership is part of what makes our water effort possible. Through organizing, media, legislative and legal efforts, WEC seeks to establish basic safeguards for streams throughout Washington and secure reforms in state law that bring balance to water management, including:

  • Requiring the collection and reporting of basic information essential to smart water management
  • Establishing adequate flow protections to support healthy rivers and streams
  • Closing loopholes that allow unsustainable water use and infringement of water rights
  • Requiring and promoting efficient water use
  • Promoting natural stormwater management
  • Requiring future housing development to be consistent with a sustainable water supply
  • Preventing illegal water use

For more information, you can review our recent report, Before the well runs dry cover"Before the Well Runs Dry: Solutions for Washington." (Click here to download a copy.) This report was developed with our partners at  American Rivers and Washington Rivers Conservancy. The report outlines Washington’s broken water policies and notes why change is needed if we are to create a sustainable water future.


Past water reports/resources:


Contact: For more information on the Water for Washington effort, contact WEC's Policy Director Darcy Nonemacher 

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