Water Resources photo identifier

Water Resources

Chapter 173-557 WAC
Spokane River and Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) Aquifer
Water Resources Management Program
(Spokane River WRMP) and amendment to WAC 173-555-010

Overview of Rule Making

We are developing an instream flow rule to protect the Spokane River.

The purpose of an instream flow rule is to protect and preserve water in streams for “instream resources” including fish, wildlife, recreational uses, wastewater management, and hydropower.  An instream flow rule will also give the river a water right, much like we give individuals, farms and municipalities.

The rule will apply to the mainstem of the Spokane River and that portion of Spokane County within the boundary of the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

Once an instream flow is set Ecology will use the rule as a regulatory flow threshold to determine whether there is water to withdraw for new uses while still protecting fish and other instream resources.

This rule making proposes a new rule for the Spokane River and Spokane Valley Aquifer.  The Little Spokane River has an instream flow rule in place, Chapter 173-555, adopted in 1976.  Geographically, part of the new proposed rule area overlaps the Little Spokane River rule area.

To clarify how each rule applies to new uses of water in the area where the two rules overlap, an amendment to WAC 173-555-010 is being proposed as part of the same rule making process for the new rule.

The only section of WAC 173-555 under consideration for amendment is 010, the general provision that addresses applicability of this rule.  Ecology is not considering amendment to any other parts of the rule.  Input on other sections of this rule will not be considered in the context of this rule making.

For detailed information about what is included in this rule making process please see the related rule-making documents.

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Public Participation and Information

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Current Status

Ecology developed a preliminary draft rule and held a public open house/workshop to explain the rule and answer questions.  At this stage in the rule development process we are evaluating public input on the preliminary draft rule and preparing the proposed rule language that will be filed with the Code Reviser's Office later this summer.

Process of development

Ecology’s process for developing a rule includes gathering input from affected stakeholders and the public and following the steps for rule adoption set in State law.


Photo of a Spokane River



Ann Wessel – Rule writer
1440 10th St, Ste 102
Bellingham, WA
FAX: 360-715-5225

Rusty Post – Watershed lead
Ecology-SEAP ERO
4601 N Monroe
Spokane, WA
FAX: 509-329-3529

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Instream Flows In Washington
Focus on Spokane River Instream Flow

Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer Study

Focus on Water Availability
Lower Spokane Watershed, WRIA 54
Little Spokane Watershed, WRIA 55
Hangman Watershed, WRIA 56
Middle Spokane Watershed, WRIA 57

Watershed Information
WRIA 54 - Lower Spokane
WRIA 55 - Little Spokane
WRIA 56 - Hangman
WRIA 57 - Middle Spokane