Water Resources photo identifier

Water Resources

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

Rule text for WAC 173-557 - New chapter
Rule text for WAC 173-555 (010) - Amendment

Rule Adoption

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 27, 2015.

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.  The legislature gave us the responsibility to protect rivers and streams with an allocation of water set by establishing instream flow rules.

The rule applies to the mainstem of the Spokane River and those portions of Spokane and Stevens Counties within the boundary of the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

The rule protects river flows and balances the needs of all water users by setting a regulatory threshold to determine when there is water available for new uses.

With the rule in place, we can make decisions on applications for new permits to use groundwater from the SVRP Aquifer, which is in direct continuity with the river.  We currently have 22 applications requesting new water in the rule area.  Each will be individually evaluated to determine if a permit to use water can be issued.

Ecology acquired and placed into trust a senior water right with help from Washington Water Trust that will be used to support river flows and offset any new domestic well uses that could impact the river in the rule area.

The Little Spokane River has an existing  instream flow rule, WAC 173-555, adopted in 1976.  Geographically, part of the new rule area overlaps the Little Spokane River rule area.  We amended the General Provision (section 010) of WAC 173-555.  This amendment for the Little Spokane River takes effect at the same time as the new rule, and clarifies how each rule applies to new uses of water in the area where the two rules overlap.

Rule Adoption Documents and Timeline

For all of the documents that were written as part of this rulemaking see:

For the timeline of rulemaking steps required in state law:

Public Comments and Ecology’s Response

Ecology formally proposed the draft rule in September 2014 and solicited feedback from the community, receiving more than 1,800 comments.  Each comment was carefully considered, summarized and responded to as part of the rulemaking process.

You can review comments and responses in the Concise Explanatory Statement.  This and all of the rule related documents are located on the Rule Documents page.

Email Notices (ListServ)  Sign up on an electronic mailing list to receive email information and notices about implementation of the new Spokane River rule:


Photo of a Spokane River



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

Keith Stoffel – Water Resources
Ecology- ERO
4601 N Monroe
Spokane, WA
FAX: 509-329-3529

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