Press release: Tribes seek federal support to resolve Nooksack basin water rights conflict

From the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, via state Department of Ecology

Six years of multi-party water rights negotiations in the Nooksack basin of Whatcom County have been suspended while the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe seek federal support to quantify their water rights.

At issue is how much water should remain in various reaches and streams of the Nooksack River, and how much should be available for other uses.

“Treaty-reserved water rights are outside the state system, and the only way that the tribes can have documented and clearly defined water rights is through a quantification judgment,” said Merle Jefferson, Lummi Natural Resources Department Director. “We encourage others to support our request to resolve this long-standing issue so that we can all have certainty and can plan accordingly.”

“There is no surprise here,” said Bob Kelly, Chairman of the Nooksack tribe. “We all knew that federal court action would be needed to establish the Indian water rights. We made a lot of progress together, and, if the parties continue to cooperate, this can be noncontroversial.”