A fish count in Fisher Slough along the Skagit River helps evaluate the health of the restored environment. Photo by Julie Morse.
An excavator removes an old dike structure at Fir Island Farm in order to reconnect the Puget Sound to estuary habitats for chinook salmon and snow geese. Photo by Zoe van Duivenbode.

With climate change, water access becomes unpredictable

Working with nature can reduce floods just as it can reduce droughts. 

Climate change in Washington will intensify precipitation in the rainy seasons and drought during our drier months, making climatic events more extreme and more unpredictable. Floods and droughts will break “records” more frequently and more dramatically.

With this increased rain, flooding risk has increased. In the past, we have tried to tame our rivers through systems like levees – once a source of community pride. However, they were not designed to withstand today’s higher water flows and need constant and expensive maintenance. Our Floodplains by Design projects are restoring river systems to prepare for climate-change impacts, improve the health of species like salmon and benefit local communities.

Water funds yield security

To deal with droughts and other water-access issues, The Nature Conservancy has created more than 30 water funds in operation from Africa to Central America. They are a mechanism for downstream water users to finance upstream conservation through techniques such as reforestation, riverbank repair, floodplain restoration and forest fire fuel reduction.

We are experiencing climate change through water, but we have answers at hand. Working with nature can reduce floods just as it can reduce droughts. Experience shows that we can work with nature on a scale that will protect water resources and habitats for generations to come.