Despite already closed to new water extractions, the proliferation of new wells in the upper Chehalis River is continuing to worsen conditions for salmon in the Chehalis River.
This is a finding in the State of Our Watersheds Report, recently released by the treaty tribes in western Washington.
Conditions on several tributaries to the upper Chehalis are bad for salmon in the summer. So much so that the state has closed them for further appropriation. From the report:
Many streams in the Chehalis basin, including Scatter Creek, as well as Black, Skookumchuck and Newaukum rivers, are closed to further consumptive appropriations in the summer. The impact of wells is expected to be greater in those areas where stream flows already do not meet regulatory minimums.
Despite this, so-called permit exempt wells are continuing to be dug:
There are currently 14,876 wells in the Quinault Area of Interest. The majority of wells are in the higher population areas of around Aberdeen, Centralia, Chehalis, and the I-5 corridor as well as in the agriculture areas, particularly in the upper Chehalis basin. Between 1980 and 2009, 9,991 wells were completed in the Quinault Area of Interest at a rate of about 344 new wells per year. Between 2010 and 2014, an additional 580 wells were added at a rate of about 116 new wells per year.