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On December 19, 2008, two new water management rules were signed and adopted by the Department of Ecology. The two rules, Chapter 173-527 WAC (Water Resource Management for the Lewis River Basin, WRIA 27) and Chapter 173-528 WAC (Water Resources Management for the Salmon-Washougal River Basin), were effective January 19, 2009. This rule-making also resulted in the repeal of Chapter 173-592 WAC.
The rules are based on recommendations made by the locally-led Watershed Planning Unit in their Watershed Management Plan, which was approved by Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties in July 2006.
The key provisions of the water management rules include:
The Water Resources Inventory Areas 27 and 28 Planning Unit was formed in 1999, and met monthly through 2004. The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board (LCFRB) 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 Lewis, Salmon-Washougal Watershed Plan (WRIA 27/28) addresses a range of issues related to water resources in WRIAs 27 and 28, 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 Clark, Skamania, and Cowlitz counties approved the Watershed Plan, which included recommendations for instream flows.
Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs) 27 and 28 are located in southwest Washington State and comprise all of Clark County, southern Cowlitz County, and portions of western and north-central Skamania County, and a very small portion of Yakima County.
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. Population in the region has been growing rapidly, creating a need for increased water supply. Clark County had the highest percentage population increase in the State (45 percent) between 1990 and 2000.
Agricultural producers need continued access to water for irrigation and stock watering. Large industry facilities require water for their operations. Local streams provide habitat for fish species that have been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and sustain non-listed fish and wildlife as well.
The region’s rivers, streams, and lakes offer fishing, boating and other recreational opportunities and natural beauty for residents and visitors to the area.
Bernadette Graham Hudson
Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board
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