Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir

City's Interest in the Project

The Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir project is a long-term collaboration by water resource stakeholders in the Sequim area concerned with the joint management of water supplies for people, farms, and fish. The reservoir work group has been busy since 2015 and includes City of Sequim, Clallam County, Dungeness Water Users Association (irrigators), Clallam Conservation District, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Washington Dept. of Ecology and Washington Water Trust.

Low flow in the Dungeness River is a significant limiting factor affecting the survival of four species of endangered or threatened Salmon and Steelhead. Low flows are primarily a seasonal challenge, occurring in late summer and early fall. In August, human needs for irrigation water peak, Chinook and Pink salmon return to spawn, the snowpack feeding the river is depleted, and the river drops to its lowest flow. In all but the wettest years with ample snowpack, these low flows are insufficient to meet the needs of salmon, not to mention other competing uses.

Illustration from Fact Sheet

The biggest and most senior established water rights in the basin belong to the Dungeness irrigators. For more than a century the Dungeness Valley has been irrigated with water directly from the Dungeness River. In the last 20 years Dungeness irrigators and water management partners have invested considerable resources to conserve and enhance flow in the River. However, in low snowpack years there is still not enough flow in the river to support salmon and also meet out-of-stream water rights.

The solution is a large off-stream reservoir to store water during winter and spring when flows are plentiful, saving this water for use later in the year. In addition to significantly increasing low-flow levels in the River, this is a multiple-benefit project that will capture stormwater and prevent flooding in the City of Sequim, provide opportunities for aquifer recharge, create a new  396-acre County park with river access and recreational opportunities, ensure the sustainability of agriculture in the Dungeness Valley, and provide climate resiliency for people, farms, and fish.

>> View a 7-minute VIDEO showing exactly how the off-channel reservoir will be operated to conserve water supplies and bring climate resiliency!

>> Download a FACT SHEET for convenient distribution. 

Community Benefits 

> Stream Flow Restoration For Salmon The project will retain up to 25 cfs in the Dungeness River by avoiding diversions, allowing the target flow-restoration goal of 105 cfs to be met, benefiting ESA-listed Salmon and Steelhead.
> Stormwater Management The project will alleviate flooding on roads and properties in the County and City of Sequim by intercepting storm flows before they reach culverts, pipelines, and other infrastructure.
> Aquifer Recharge In years with adequate snowpack, stored winter runoff can be used for aquifer recharge that will augment flows in small streams and possibly generate mitigation credits for the Dungeness Water Exchange.
> Long-Term Agricultural Viability Secure access to water for irrigation is critical to maintaining agriculture in the Dungeness Valley; this project will ensure that fish can thrive and irrigation can continue without impacting flows.
> Recreation The project site is currently owned by Department of Natural Resources and will be eventually owned and managed by Clallam County as a new public park with hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and river access opportunities.
> Climate Resiliency Decreasing water supplies is the biggest climate concern for the region and this project provides a solution for salmon and agriculture during drought years and for drinking water supply/aquifer stability over time.

Project Status & Contacts

Preliminary Design and a Cost Benefit Analysis were complete by 2016. In Winter 2019, funding was secured from the Washington Dept. of Ecology’s Streamflow Restoration Grant Program for land acquisition by Clallam County (trust land transfer from Washington Dept. of Natural Resources), final design and engineering. Additional funding was secured in 2020 to complete design and permitting. Grants to help fund construction are pending and include: Floodplains by Design, Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, FEMA BRIC program, and the Puget Sound Partnership Near Term Action (Action Agenda).

We encourage you to learn more and express your support of this important project. For more information please contact one of these reservoir work group representatives:

Carol Creasey, Clallam County Hydrogeologist and project manager
360-417-2424, email Carol Creasey

Mark Ozias, Clallam County Commissioner, District 1
360-417-2233, email Mark Ozias

Ben Smith, Dungeness Water Users Association, Maple View Farm owner
email Ben Smith

Ann Soule, City of Sequim Hydrogeologist and Resource Manager
360-582-2436, email Ann Soule

Kim Williams, Clallam Conservation District Manager

Hansi Hals, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Natural Resources Director
360-681-4601, email Hansi Hals

Jason Hatch, Washington Water Trust Project Manager
360-328-3166, email Jason Hatch

Mike Gallagher, WA Dep’t. of Ecology Southwest Regional Office Water Resource Program Manager
360-407-6058, email Mike Gallagher