Washington State Department of Ecology

04/19/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/19/2024 12:04

Preparing Whatcom water users for adjudication

Department of Ecology News Release - April 19, 2024

Preparing Whatcom water users for adjudication

Water users in the Nooksack area will recieve a postcard like the one shown here letting them know where they can find more information about the upcoming water rights adjudication.


In preparation for the upcoming basin-wide water right adjudication in the Nooksack Basin and surrounding areas, the Washington Department of Ecology has mailed 30,000 postcards to water users in and around Whatcom County.

Even in the rainy Northwest, water is a limited resource, and in the Nooksack, farmers, fish and communities all need access to water. Adjudication is a legal process that resolves conflict and competition on a water source. It reviews whether each water use in an area is legal, how much water can be used, and which uses receive priority during water shortages. In the case of the upcoming adjudication, every water user who does not receive their water from a utility company should expect to participate.

"We don't want anyone to be surprised or confused when they get a legal summons in the mail later this year," said Robin McPherson, Ecology's adjudications manager. "This is just one of the ways we are reaching out to get people information and resources to help them understand and engage in the adjudication process."

In addition to the cards, which were scheduled to be mailed April 19, Ecology circulates monthly newsletters, hosts community meetings, and partners with local organizations to get information to residents covered by the adjudication.

"So far we've had more than 8,000 contacts in the community, but we're still working to spread the word," McPherson said. "We also have translation and accessibility options at every step. We have answered hundreds of inquiries through our phone and e-mail resource lines."

This summer, after the Whatcom County Superior Court sets a date, each water user will receive a summons via certified mail that will include a claim form and instructions for how to fill it out. All water users will have a year to complete and return the form.

To learn more about the Nooksack adjudication, visit https://ecology.wa.gov/water-shorelines/water-supply/water-rights/adjudications/nooksack.

Contact information

Jimmy Norris
Communications Manager