Five Critical Areas of Conservation

Aquifer Recharge

Conservation projects through VSP help protect community drinking water.

More than 60 percent of Washingtonians get their drinking water from groundwater, and the majority of rural residents' drinking water originates in groundwater.

The goal of establishing critical aquifer recharge areas (CARA) is to protect a community’s drinking water by preventing pollution and maintaining supply. VSP county projects help cities and counties comply with CARA requirements that are required by the state Growth Management Act.

Aquifer recharge projects may include work to:

  • Identify where groundwater resources are located.
  • Analyze the susceptibility of the natural setting where groundwater occurs.
  • Inventory existing potential sources of groundwater contamination.
  • Classify the how vulnerable the groundwater is to contamination events.
  • Designate areas that are most at risk to contamination events.
  • Protect groundwater by minimizing activities and conditions that pose contamination risks.
  • Ensure that contamination prevention plans and best management practices are followed.
  • Manage groundwater withdrawals and recharge impacts to:
  • Maintain availability for drinking water sources.
  • Maintain stream base flow from groundwater to support in-stream flows, especially for salmon-bearing streams.

Learn more about critical area definitions.


Pacific CD Protects Riparian Habitat through Fencing Project

Wildlife Habitat

Pacific Conservation District (PCD) recently worked with a landowner who completed an exclusion fence for their cattle operation.

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Foster Creek CD Projects Focus on Stream Restoration and Innovative Virtual Fencing

Geologically Hazardous

Two Foster Creek CD (FCCD) projects showcase an ecosystem approach to improving natural resources, protecting geologically hazardous landscapes, improving habitat health, and ensuring agricultural viability within the Foster Watershed.

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Okanogan CD Assists with Installation of Livestock Exclusion Fencing


Okanogan Conservation District (OCD) utilized VSP funding to work with a landowner to install livestock exclusion fencing, protecting riparian and wetland habitats from grazing sheep.

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Removing Yakima River Water Stargrass


Benton Conservation District (BCD) is leading the community effort to deal with water stargrass.

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