Dungeness River Drought Response
The Dungeness River is 1 of 24 watersheds in Washington state where drought has been declared. In the Dungeness the drought is a result of a low snowpack year and a warmer than average winter. 2019 marks the third drought declaration in Dungeness since 2015, the state’s worst drought on record, with another declaration in 2016.
The Dungeness River Drought Response project is being championed by the Washington Water Trust (WWT), who has worked in the Dungeness area with irrigators for more than 10 years to address low flows in late summer, especially in drought years. In each of these years WWT in coordination with the Dungeness Water Users Association (irrigators) has deployed the Dungeness Dry Year Leasing Program, which pays irrigators to fallow acres from August 15-September 15, when flows are unlikely to meet minimum flow targets in the Dungeness River. As of August 26, 2019, the nearly 9 cubic feet secured under the program as a whole, represents as much as 10% of flow, ensuring flows remain above the minimum target flows for stream health.
The Dry Year Leasing Program will help manage water supply during a time that is critical for Salmonids, respond to drought conditions, and promote resiliency in the Olympic Peninsula.
* Project supports agricultural water use efficiency to reduce the amount of water withdrawn from surface or groundwater sources.