Instream Flow photo identifier

Instream Flow

Skagit River Basin - Water Management Rule Timeline

WAC 173-503 Instream Resources Protection Program -- Lower and Upper Skagit Water Resources Inventory Area (WRIA 3 And 4)


Type of Activity

August 19, 1996 Cultus IFIM study, entitled “Draft Report; Skagit County Water Supply IFIM and Fisheries Study: Gilligan, Salmon, Turner, Mundt Creeks  Marks the beginning of extensive research on Skagit River Basin flows and fish, and future out-of-stream needs.
December 1996 Memorandum of Agreement: “Utilization of Skagit River Water Resources for Instream and Out-of-stream Purposes”.  Signed by Tribes, local governments and state government agencies.
September and October 1999 Workshops on the rule, open to the general public.
November 1 - December 8, 2000 Public hearing (November 29, 2000) and public comment period on proposed rule.
April 14, 2001 Adoption of Skagit River Basin Instream Resources Protection Program Rule (WAC 173-503).
April 2003 Skagit County initiates lawsuit against Ecology because rule did not address exempt well use in rural areas.
May 15, 2006 Adoption of amended Skagit River Basin Instream Resources Protection Program Rule (copy of Invalidated WAC 173-503), establishing reservations of water not subject to instream flows.  Skagit County lawsuit dropped.
June 2008 Swinomish Tribe challenges validity of 2006 rule amendments.
June 24, 2011 Carpenter-Fisher subbasin closed to new, unmitigated water uses; the reservation was used up.  Nookachamps subbasin reservation nearly depleted.
October 3, 2013 State Supreme Court decision in Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v Washington State Department of Ecology.
November 20, 2014 Petition to repeal Skagit River Basin Instream Resources Protection Program Rule (WAC 173-503).
January 15, 2015 Ecology letter in response to petition to repeal (WAC 173-503).
March 2016 Engrossed Senate Bill 6589 adopted by Washington State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Inslee.  This bill requires a feasibility study for Skagit water storage to provide mitigation of new uses.
April 2016 Fox court decision: Skagit County cannot be compelled to issue a building permit because the groundwater supply would have to stop when instream flows are not met