Grays-Elochoman, Cowlitz River Basins Water Resource Management Programs

Instream Flows and Fish - Protection of low flow periods critical for fish production

Summary of technical documents by Ecology

Summary of two USGS studies that describe:

This page is being maintained as an archive of past information and will not be updated.

Rulemaking on hold for Grays-Elochoman, Cowlitz water rules

Rulemaking efforts towards water management rules for Water Resources Inventory Areas (WRIAs) 25 and 26 in southwest Washington were stopped in mid-2010.  This was due primarily to two factors:

Ecology and Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife staff continue to work with the WRIA 25 and 26 planning units as they revise plan recommendations regarding closing certain streams to new uses and other water management issues.

Watershed planning and the Grays-Elochoman, Cowlitz Planning Unit

The Water Resources Inventory Areas (WRIAs) 25 and 26 Planning Unit was formed in 1999, and continues to meet.  The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board was selected to serve as the lead agency, to receive and manage State grant money on behalf of the Planning Unit, and provide staffing and facilitation throughout the planning process.

The Grays-Elochoman and Cowlitz Watershed Plan addresses a range of issues related to water resources in WRIAs 25 and 26, including water supply, stream flow management, water quality, and fish habitat.  It reviews alternative approaches for managing water resources in the area and recommends selected strategies for implementation.

In July 2006, county officials in Wahkiakum, Lewis, Cowlitz and Skamania counties approved the Watershed Plan, which included recommendations for instream flows.

Information related to 2009-2010 rulemaking effort

News releases


Ecology issued a Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) under the State Environmental Policy Act, a Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS), and a preliminary cost-benefit analysis (CBA).

Overview of the basins

Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs) 25 and 26 are located in southwest Washington State, and overlap significant parts of Lewis, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties. Smaller portions of Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, and Yakima Counties are also included.

A variety of needs must be met by surface and ground waters in this region of the state. This is primarily due to the wide range of land uses that span from public and private resource lands to rural mixed use lands to suburban and urban lands.

Future water demands are expected to come from a combination of domestic growth and economic transition. The population in these basins is projected to increase by 47 percent from year 2000 to 2020, and economic development is increasing in the small industrial and commercial sectors.

Although neither of these watersheds are identified as one of the 16 most flow-critical basins in Washington, they are still of great public importance and require considerable protection. Streams within these watersheds provide spawning and rearing habitat for several fish species that have recently been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. In most areas, the stream flow that supports these species is severely limited during summer months.

The region’s rivers, streams, and lakes also offer fishing, boating and other recreational opportunities and natural beauty for residents and visitors to the area.


Jennifer Holderman
Rulemaking Liaison, Water Resources Program
Department of Ecology
(360) 407-6094
  Jeff Breckel
Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board
(360) 425-1553