Jul 10 2009
For years, many Washington farmers have used, in addition to surface and ground water for which they have conventional water rights, water running in drainage ditches. In some places, small dams have even been established to capture and divert the water. At least one farmer organization, the Western Washington Agricultural Association, says that farmers long have assumed the use was legal.
On June 4, according to the Capitol News newspaper, the Swinomish Tribe (based near La Conner) is asking the state Department of Ecology for a determination – and it is arguing that the use is illegal and depriving the tribe of water which it is owed.
Those rights, generally, refer to in-stream flows which help preserve salmon runs.
Farmers argue that if they cannot use the drainage water, many may run far short of available water.
[Capitol Press, July 9]