WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project

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In 1998, the Washington State Watershed Management Act (Act) legislation was passed and codified as Chapter 90.82 RCW. This law allows citizens and local governments to develop a plan specifically related to local water-related circumstances and needs. The state designated the Nooksack watershed as Water Resource Inventory Area No. 1 (WRIA 1). The Watershed Management Act required all participating local governments to address water quantity, and also gives them the option of addressing water quality, instream flows, and fish habitat. The 2005 WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan- Phase 1 addresses all these elements.

In October of 1998, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) initiated the WRIA 1 watershed planning process. This MOA was signed by four of the five Initiating Governments. Later, the Nooksack Tribe submitted a Letter of Agreement. The Initiating Governments in WRIA 1 are the City of Bellingham, Lummi Nation, Nooksack Tribe, Public Utility District No. 1, and Whatcom County.

The Initiating Governments established the Planning Unit to ensure representation of a broad range of water resource interests. In 1999, an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) created the Joint Board, which was comprised of the Initiating Governments (Lummi Nation, Nooksack Indian Tribe, City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, and the Public Utility District No. 1).

In March 2000, a general Scope of Work (SOW) for the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project was developed by project participants and approved by the Planning Unit and the Joint Board. The March 2000 SOW identifies project goals, the technical elements to be addressed (water quantity, water quality, instream flow, and fish habitat), the approach for defining solutions, and elements to be considered for Watershed Management Plan (WMP) implementation including governance structure, funding, long-term monitoring, and adaptive management. A WMP was approved by the Planning Unit in March 2005 and by the Whatcom County Council in June 2005 (2005 WRIA 1 WMP-Phase I). In June 2007, the WRIA 1 Planning Unit approved the WRIA 1 Detailed Implementation Plan (DIP). The DIP was prepared for WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project participants as a tool intended to facilitate implementation of actions and strategies included in the 2005 WRIA 1 WMP-Phase I.

In December 2016, the WRIA 1 Joint Board and the WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery Board were consolidated under a single ILA that established the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Board. The Watershed Management Board includes the Initiating Governments that comprised the Joint Board, plus the six other cities in Whatcom County, and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, which were part of the WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery Board.