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Water Resources Inventory Area 1 Watershed Management

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In recent years, increased use of ground- and surface-water supplies in watersheds of Washington State has created concern that insufficient in-stream flows remain for fish and other users. In response, the Washington State legislature passed the Watershed Management Act of 1998 (ESHB 2514; see also Ch.90.82 RCW - Watershed Planning), which encourages and provides some funding for local watershed planning and delegates the planning to the local level. As part of this planning, stakeholders within a Water Resources Inventory Area (WRIA) need to assess the status of water resources in the WRIA and, through a water-quantity analysis, determine how much water is available for additional allocation within the WRIA.

The Watershed Management Project for WRIA 1 was established by members of the Initiating Governments; the Lummi Nation, the Nooksack Tribe, the City of Bellingham, Public Utility District No. 1 of Whatcom County, and Whatcom County. The area covered by WRIA 1 includes the Nooksack River and several adjacent watersheds. Federal and State government participation is by the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington State Department of Ecology, respectively. The Initiating Governments have provided funds and committed staff for a hydrologic assessment of WRIA 1.

The Watershed Management Act of 1998 (ESHB 2514) requires that the Initiating Governments complete an assessment of water supply and water use in the WRIA and develop strategies for future use of the water resources. The Initiating Governments have requested technical assistance from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in completing the water-supply and water-use assessment. This assessment will provide the technical information required to develop a sustainable watershed-management plan for WRIA 1. The USGS provides an additional source of funding for the hydrologic assessments.

The watershed analysis will be conducted in two parts. The objective of Part 1 is to compile and assess currently available hydrologic data to be used during Part 2 for a quantitative evaluation of ground- and surface-water resources of WRIA 1. The quantitative evaluation will be done with a hydrologic model, which may include only those parts of the WRIA where currently available data are sufficient to enable the construction and calibration of a numerical model. Data gaps in the WRIA will be identified, and a determination made regarding what additional data are needed to improve and expand the hydrologic model during possible future phases. The Initiating Governments will use the model to decide how to balance the competing demands for water within the WRIA, as required by the Watershed Management Act. It is envisioned that as data gaps are filled in during possible future phases, the model will be updated and expanded to include the entire WRIA.

This webpage presents the compilation of existing relevant data. Environmental data on this webpage are organized by category (Ground-Water System, Surface-Water System, Watershed Boundaries, Climate and Evapotranspiration, Land Use and Land Cover, and Water Use) and consist of information displayed as maps, tables, graphs, and descriptions. A complete listing of relevant data sources is stored in a Microsoft Access* database, which is available upon request (contact our webmaster for information). The initial version of this database was developed for the Nooksack Basin Water Users Steering Committee and the Department of Ecology by Cascades Environmental Services and Water Resources Consulting Team (Greenberg and others, 1996) and included information through early 1996. The USGS expanded the Ground Water, Surface Water, and Water Use/Water Rights categories of the database and added one new category (Land Use).

References Cited

Greenberg, J., Welch, K., Neuman, M., Willing, P., and Barclay, M., 1996, Catalogue of existing information on water resources and fisheries in the Nooksack Basin, a report to the Nooksack Basin Water Users Steering Committee and the Washington Department of Ecology, Microsoft Access database: Bellingham, Wash., Cascades Environmental Services and Water Resources Consulting Team, [about 900] p.

* Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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