Salmon runs, Tribal treaty rights, orca recovery, and access to water in a changing climate are at stake for the Nooksack watershed in Governor Inslee’s budget. A water rights adjudication of the Nooksack watershed will determine Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe’s water rights to support their treaty rights for fish. An adjudication will also provide water certainty to all users in the watershed and allow the community to move forward on improving flows in the Nooksack for salmon habitat.
Knowing exactly who has rights to how much water is a vital baseline for making choices about this shared resource. Without an adjudication, Ecology cannot properly regulate between water users that have actual water rights or just water claims — essentially unverified water rights. To protect Tribal treaty rights and struggling salmon in increasingly dry summers, we need a thorough review of how precious water is being used from the Nooksack.
If we can’t resolve the challenges of managing water now, how will we do it in the future as the winter snowpack feeding the river in the summer continues to decline?
Please ask state lawmakers to support funding a legal adjudication in the Nooksack River!