Poster Title

Irrigation and Water Use in Whatcom County

Research Mentor(s)

Aquila Flower

Affiliated Department

Environmental Studies

Sort Order

43

Start Date

17-5-2017 9:00 AM

End Date

17-5-2017 12:00 PM

Document Type

Event

Abstract

Every summer, large amounts of water are used for irrigation in Whatcom County, a large percentage of which is done without a water right. During those same summer months, water levels in the Nooksack River are consistently below minimum required flows, threatening water quality, fish habitat, and Tribal fishing rights. Despite this, there is little to no information about the amount of water being used during the summer months because the vast majority of wells are not publically metered. Moreover, there are no estimations of the proportion of water use being conducted without a water right, the main regulatory tool used to manage water in Whatcom County. Using geographic data from the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Agriculture, I was able to identify agricultural parcels irrigating without a water right and estimate the amount of water used for agriculture during the summer months. Preliminary results show more than 30% of all irrigating agricultural acres in Whatcom County irrigate without a water right. Additionally, more than 70,000 acre-feet of water (approximately 35,000Olympic swimming pools of water) are used for irrigation every summer. Beyond identifying and quantifying the issue of water management, I also attempt to offer potential conservation solutions and map their impact in the hopes that Watershed Improvement Districts, local political organizations formed for water management, may be able to utilize my research and seriously consider conservation solutions.

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this documentation for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 17th, 9:00 AM May 17th, 12:00 PM

Irrigation and Water Use in Whatcom County

Environmental Studies

Every summer, large amounts of water are used for irrigation in Whatcom County, a large percentage of which is done without a water right. During those same summer months, water levels in the Nooksack River are consistently below minimum required flows, threatening water quality, fish habitat, and Tribal fishing rights. Despite this, there is little to no information about the amount of water being used during the summer months because the vast majority of wells are not publically metered. Moreover, there are no estimations of the proportion of water use being conducted without a water right, the main regulatory tool used to manage water in Whatcom County. Using geographic data from the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Agriculture, I was able to identify agricultural parcels irrigating without a water right and estimate the amount of water used for agriculture during the summer months. Preliminary results show more than 30% of all irrigating agricultural acres in Whatcom County irrigate without a water right. Additionally, more than 70,000 acre-feet of water (approximately 35,000Olympic swimming pools of water) are used for irrigation every summer. Beyond identifying and quantifying the issue of water management, I also attempt to offer potential conservation solutions and map their impact in the hopes that Watershed Improvement Districts, local political organizations formed for water management, may be able to utilize my research and seriously consider conservation solutions.