A Western Washington tribe today won a legal victory that will ensure more water stays in the Skagit River to help salmon and steelhead.
The Washington state Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Ecology overstepped its authority in allocating water from the Skagit River for new development.
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community sued Ecology, contending harm to salmon and steelhead if stream flows were too low.
The Skagit is home to three species of fish that are protected under the Endangered Species Act .
The court’s 6-to-3 decision overturned a lower court ruling that sided with the state.
Attorneys say it is not immediately clear what this ruling means for water users. The case has been closely watched by rural and agricultural landowners in the Skagit River basin who drilled wells about a decade ago.