Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program

Columbia River at dusk

The Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program (CBWTP) was developed in 2002 to address chronically diminished stream flows in tributaries of the Columbia River.


The native fish species of the Columbia River Basin rely on the healthy flow of rivers and streams for their survival, resilience and persistence. But stretches of many streams and rivers in the Basin run low -- and sometimes dry -- in summer and early fall because of legal water withdrawals. Inadequate stream flows, often the result of competing out-of-stream water uses like crop irrigation, are a key factor limiting the productivity of Pacific salmon, steelhead trout, and a host of resident fish species.

To enhance stream flow, the Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program (CBWTP) works through locally based entities to acquire water rights voluntarily from willing landowners. Using temporary and permanent water rights acquisitions and other incentive-based approaches, the CBWTP supports grantees in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana to assist landowners who wish to voluntarily restore flows to key fish habitat. Voluntary, market-based water transactions provide an effective and fair way to balance out-of-stream water uses with the need to maintain stream flow for imperiled fish.

Since its inception in 2002, CBWTP has implemented over 705 voluntary water transactions and secured over 3.1 million acre-feet of water in flow-limited tributaries of the Columbia River Basin. Funding for this program is provided by Bonneville Power Administration in cooperation with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and with additional support from U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service. In 2024, program funding will include support for technical assistance for landowners to develop conservation plans focused on climate-smart mitigation activities to improve and protect water quality and quantity to benefit watershed resilience and native fish conservation. Funding will also be available for projects that improve access to and connectivity of habitat for native fish, and instream habitat enhancement projects in flow limited watersheds.

Application Information

Columbia Basin Restoration Program 2024-2025 Request For Proposals - CLOSED View Now
Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program Monitoring Workplan 2024 View Now
Flow Restoration Accounting Framework View Now
Water Transaction Process View Now
2022 Annual Report Download the PDF
2021 Annual Report Download the PDF
2020 Annual Report Download the PDF
2020 Annual Report Appendix View Website
2019 Annual Report Download the PDF
2019 Annual Report Appendix Download the PDF
2018 Annual Report Download the PDF
2018 Annual Report Appendix Download the PDF
2017 Annual Report Download the PDF
Independent External Eval of the CBWTP Download the PDF
QA - Support for Transaction Monitoring & Evaluation Effectiveness Download the PDF
Flow Restoration Accounting Framework Download the PDF
Staff Representatives

Program Director, Western Water

Manager, Pacific Northwest Watersheds

Regional Program Coordinator