Department of Ecology News Release - April 17, 2014

Protecting Spokane River flow
State seeking feedback on preliminary draft instream flow rule

SPOKANE – The Spokane River is a valuable asset for the environment, the economy and people. The river provides habitat for fish and wildlife and opportunities for recreation while playing an important role for other uses such as wastewater management and hydropower.

In an effort to protect and preserve water levels in the Spokane River, the Washington Department of Ecology is proposing a preliminary draft rule for the main stem of the river in Spokane County and a small portion of Stevens County.

The purpose of an instream flow rule is to give the river a water right, much like we give individuals, farms and municipalities. In order to issue the river a water right, the state has to go through the process of adopting a rule.

Ecology approaches instream flow rules differently in each watershed basin. Each rule area has unique needs due to geography, geology, population, and local water management.

The rule adoption process includes a robust public process and collaboration with the communities impacted by the rule. The public can provide input on the preliminary draft rule through an online feedback system. These comments may be incorporated into proposed rule language but will not be addressed formally. A formal public comment period and hearing will be held later in the process.

If an instream flow rule is adopted, Ecology will use the rule as a regulatory flow threshold to determine whether there is water available for new uses while still protecting fish and other instream resources.

Ecology is hosting an open house to explain the rule and answer questions from 4 to 7p.m. May 14, 2014, at CenterPlace Regional Event Center in Spokane Valley.

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Contacts:

Brook Beeler, communications, 509-329-3478, and @ecyspokane