Topic: Government (354)

Water Rights

Local presentations scheduled on a reasonable use framework for water resource management

Local presentations scheduled on a reasonable use framework for water resource management

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Everyone in Whatcom County is about to learn a lot more about water rights.  Washington State has filed an action for adjudication of these rights in Whatcom Superior Court. The process will cover all the waters of Whatcom County, in the State-delineated Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA 1) which includes the Nooksack River system and area of Whatcom County north to Canada.

The State intends the process to affirm “current water rights” and provide “the foundation for resolving conflicts and competition over water resources by establishing who has the right to use water, in what quantity, and in what order of seniority.” The State follows the Prior Appropriation Doctrine, in which the first to establish a beneficial use enjoys a senior right to the resource.

But the Nooksack River is already over allocated.  Shrinking glaciers and climate driven changes in precipitation could create conflicts between, for example, farmers, fishers, industry and residents.

Following quickly on the heels of the State’s filing, a very well credentialed and uniquely qualified gentleman, James Davenport, has announced public presentations on his well informed perspective on water rights.

Mr. Davenport believes that seniority of prior use is not the best model for managing a vital resource subject to climate change and favors a reasonable use framework for the common good.

The presentations will occur 3:00pm June 5 at the Deming Library, 1:00pm June 6 at the Bellingham Library Lecture Room, and later at 5:00pm at the Lynden Library.

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