Water and Climate Change: Solutions on Washington’s Yakima River

Daily headlines are driving home the fact that climate change is hitting rivers and water supplies first and worst. But too often, the narrative devolves into a debate over the false choice of “fish vs farms,” highlighted in this recent NPR interview. So where is the path forward? How do we meet all of our water needs and ensure healthy rivers? An agreement on Washington’s Yakima River shows that when stakeholders build trust and work together, we can achieve solutions that work for communities, farms, businesses, fish, and wildlife.

As Michael Garrity of American Rivers recently told The New York Times, “The Yakima Plan shows how we move forward through the reality of climate change and ensure reliable water supplies and healthy rivers.”

At the heart of the Yakima plan is a recognition of the value of healthy, flowing rivers. And, a recognition that we need balance: If we manage our water supplies wisely, we can have healthy farms, thriving fish and wildlife, and a healthy environment and economy.

American Rivers, Trout Unlimited and The Wilderness Society recently released a short film, This River Runs Forever, showcasing the many people who came together to write a new chapter for the Yakima River. Watch the film

The Yakima River, a tributary of the Columbia River in south central and eastern Washington, supports many aspects of the Pacific Northwest’s high quality of life. The river is home to salmon runs that sustain tribes and provides Washington’s only blue ribbon trout fishing opportunities for residents and visitors. The river’s water irrigates crops including apples, peaches, cherries, and an increasing quantity of wine grapes. The Yakima is also essential to the craft beer industry and to bigger breweries, providing roughly 75 percent of the nation’s – and one-third of the world’s – —> Read More