Ruling Continues to Protect Dungeness Water Resources

A major decision on the Dungeness Instream Flow Rule has been made, allowing the rule to continue to protect water resources in the Dungeness River basin.

The Dungeness Instream Flow Rule is a management tool that protects water resources for both people and wildlife. It mitigates any new groundwater withdrawals, allowing new construction and remodeling to continue in areas under the jurisdiction of this rule, while still protecting water resources for salmon and other species.

The rule had been challenged by a group of developers and property owners recently, claiming that the rule was unlawful and that the Department Ecology, who oversaw the development of the rule, was acting outside its authority when it adopted the rule in January 2013.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is a supporter of the rule and recent decision.

“The Dungeness water rule is truly a water resource management rule,” said Scott Chitwood, the tribe’s natural resources director. “It recognizes the connectivity between surface water and groundwater.  The Department of Ecology developed a groundwater model specifically for the Dungeness watershed following the planning process. The model is based on data from over 5,000 individual wells describing as many as three aquifers within the planning area.”

The tribe has been involved in regional water resource planning efforts for decades, dating back to the 1980’s and the original Dungeness-Quilcene watershed planning efforts, Chitwood said.

“Water is required by the tribe’s fish and wildlife resources,” he said. “The tribe’s treaty rights to fish and wildlife are reserved in the Point No Point Treaty with the United States. The tribe’s interest is that water be managed wisely. The tribe wanted a community-based solution, one that worked for all interests. The rule-making process offered that.

“The tribe believes the Dungeness water rule is the best solution to long term water management. All parts of the community are involved. The rule continues to receive broad support. It offers not only a chance to halt the decline of surface water flows but restoration of groundwater supplies.”

More information and background about the rule can be found here.

A video about restoration work that has been done on the Dungeness River by the tribe and other partners can be found here.