Hearing This Week on Instream Flow Rule for Spokane River

By Paige Browning

Entities who want permits to withdraw from the Spokane River will face more restrictions down the road. The state Department of Ecology is creating an instream flow rule for the river’s stem in Spokane County, and a portion in Stevens County.
 
Ecology creates instream flow rules to protect fish, wildlife, and other resources, as priorities over entities who withdraw water.
 
Ecology spokesperson Brook Beeler says her agency is holding an open house this Wednesday to explain the draft rule for the Spokane River. She says once the rule is in place, any new water rights could be interrupted if a pre-determined flow level is not met.
 
Beeler: “Say somebody wants to put in for a water right to withdraw from the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, would now be junior to the river’s instream flow rule. So they might be interruptible in low water years.”
 
The summer instream flow, for example, is set at 850 cubic feet per second.
 
Water rights that exist now, like municipal drinking water and hydropower, would not be interrupted. There are currently instream flow rules on the Spokane River in parts of Idaho, and on the Little Spokane River.
 
To learn more about the draft rule from Ecology, there’s an open house Wednesday afternoon from 4:00 to 7:00 at Centerplace Regional Event Center in Spokane Valley.
 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio

Table courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology:
 

Table 2
Instream Flows for the Spokane River
 
SpokaneRiver at Spokane
 
October 1 – March 31 1,700 cfs
 
April 1 – June 15 6,500 cfs
June 16 – September 30 850 cfs
 
SpokaneRiverat Greenacres (Barker Rd.)
 
June 16 – September 30 500.                          cfs
 
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