A new plan to offset the effects of residential wells on streamflows in the Nisqually River watershed will soon provide a reliable water source for both rural homeowners and native fish habitats.

In 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling set a new ecological standard for the use of well water in homes and buildings. As a result, the streamflow restoration law was established, which calls for 15 new watershed plans throughout the state.

The Nisqually plan is the first of these watershed plans to be approved. A planning group comprised of tribal, local, and state government agencies ultimately decided on the course of ecological action.

The plan includes decommissioning existing wells, connecting housing developments to the city water system, restoring Ohop creek wetlands to ensure a steady water release year-round, storing water underground in aquifers, and other projects.

“This effort is the result of six months of commitment by all of us in the Nisqually, and is really a demonstration of the 30 years of developing trust and relationships in our watershed that allows us to collaboratively solve complex problems,” said David Troutt, Natural Resources Director for the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the planning group’s lead local agency.