Department of Ecology News Release - September 17, 2014

State proposes rule to help protect Spokane River
Seeking comment on proposed instream flow

SPOKANE – In an effort to protect and preserve river flows in the Spokane River, the Washington Department of Ecology is proposing an “instream flow rule” for the main stem of the river in Spokane County and a small portion of Stevens County.

In Washington, the Legislature gave Ecology the responsibility to protect rivers and streams with an allocation of water set by establishing instream flow rules.

The Spokane 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. The proposed rule will help protect these and other instream uses by setting a regulatory threshold to determine whether there is water available for new uses.

Ecology solicited feedback from the community on a preliminary draft rule before entering the official rule making process. As a result the proposed rule reflects some changes to meet local needs.  

A common component in other rules, which requires metering of new permit exempt wells, was removed from this proposed rule to simplify implementation and minimize administrative costs after adoption.  

When an instream flow rule is proposed, state law requires a State Environmental Policy Act determination and an economic analysis for the rule. These draft documents are also available for review and comment.

The public can provide comments on the proposed rule through an online feedback system or by emailing Ann Wessel through Nov. 7, 2014.

 Ecology will host an open house at 6 p.m. followed by a public hearing at 7p.m. on Oct. 22, 2014, at CenterPlace Regional Event Center in Spokane Valley.

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.

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Contact:

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