Watershed Management photo identifier

Watershed Management

Little Spokane/Middle Spokane - (WRIAs 55/57)

link to WRIA 62 link to WRIA 59 link to WRIA 54 link to WRIA 57 link to all WRIAs WRIA 55, Little Spokane


WRIA 57, Middle spokane











Grants awarded through June 2013


Approved Project and Phase 4 grants July 2013 - June 2015

  • $62,500 $230,000 – USGS Study of the Little Spokane
  • $47,500 – Mirror Pond Renovation and Conservation
  • $110,000 – Little Spokane Water Bank Feasibility
  • $25,000 – Pine River Park Monitoring Well Installation

CURRENT STATUS – January 2014  The Little Spokane watershed planning group continues to be very active in implementing high priority elements of their Detailed Implementation Plan.  The group continues to be qualified for Phase 4 implementation funding and has been awarded project implementation grants under the watershed planning funding allocation.

Watershed Planning in this watershed is part of a dual watershed planning area with the Middle Spokane Watershed, WRIA 57.  Members of the planning group operate under a formal Memorandum of Agreement.  In order to increase planning efficiencies, the Little/Middle Spokane group has also been coordinating with WRIA 56 – Hangman Creek Watershed in a Joint Watershed Implementation Team (WIT).  In addition, this joint WIT has been cooperating and coordinating with WRIA 54 on some projects and implementation activities.  WRIA 54 and the 55/57/56 WIT are in the final stages of developing a joint operating agreement for the three groups (four watersheds) to increase efficiency and effectiveness through shared administration and coordinated project implementation.

Instream flow status

On January 27, 2015 Director Maia Bellon signed a new instream flow rule for the Spokane River and Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) Aquifer for the benefit of the community and the river.  The rule goes into effect February 26, 2015.


Instream flows were set in 1976 for the Little Spokane River (Chapter 173-555 WAC).  No changes are proposed for the Little Spokane River instream flow rule.  For the mainstem Spokane River, the planning group approved instream flow recommendations for the Spokane River at Barker Road and for aesthetic and recreational flows in the watershed plan.  Further instream flow data collection was completed for the Middle and Lower Spokane River in May 2007.

The joint WRIA 54 and 55/57 instream flow work group collaborated on instream flow recommendations for the entire Spokane River, integrating the research from the recent studies with those completed in 2004 and during the Avista hydroelectric project relicensing process. the work group did not achieve consensus on minimum instream flows for the main stem Spokane River.  However, they did agree upon control points to manage surface water and the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie aquifer.  The State Caucus recommendations for minimum instream flows were used as the foundation for conditions in the Section 401 water quality certification of the Avista hydroelectric dam relicense.

The instream flow workgroup met in 2010 to review new recommendations presented by the state caucus.  Further discussions were postponed pending results of a spawning survey being conducted by Avista, and a court ruling on the Municipal Water Law case before the Supreme Court of Washington.  Additional studies on flows and habitat were completed in 2012, and have contributed to development of revised instream flow recommendations.

In the spring of 2013, the State Caucus developed revised instream flow recommendations for the Spokane River; including the spring spawning flow study from the Avista and the USGS delineated boundary of the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie aquifer.  On January 21, 2014, Ecology filed a notice of intent to conduct rule-making (CR 101) with the State Code Reviser’s Office.  Ecology intends to release preliminary draft instream flow rule language in April 2014 for public comment, and file a draft rule with the Code Reviser in July/August 2014.


The boards of county commissioners from Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties adopted the final WRIA 55/57 Watershed Plan in joint session in January 2006.  The planning group approved the Phase 4 detailed implementation plan in February 2008.  Since plan adoption, the group has:

  • Continued work on instream flow assessment and recommendations.
  • Developed a Detailed Implementation Plan (DIP).
  • Completed a feasibility study on enhancing water storage by restoring wetlands or other natural impoundments.
  • Developed education and outreach materials and trainings about water conservation and irrigation efficiencies.
  • Conducted numerous studies and implemented many high priority projects from their Detailed Implementation Plan, such as riparian restoration projects, lake management, water availability analysis, groundwater studies, etc.

Planning Documents

Links, publications, studies, data

Please send additions or corrections to Chris Anderson, (360) 407-6634.


WRIA 55-57 Status

Plan Website -
Spokane Basin Watershed Planning,WRIAs 55 & 57, Middle and Little Spokane Rivers

Lead agency contact
Mike Hermanson
Spokane County Public Works Department, Utilities Division


Ecology Contact
Rusty Post
Department of Ecology

Spokane River Basin