Instream Flow Rule Draws River-Advocate’s Ire

Jan 28, 2015

A new rule on the Spokane River will affect potential water users, from water-hungry businesses to recreational boaters. Tuesday, the department of ecology adopted an instream flow rule for the river’s main stem and a small portion in Stevens County.

File photo of Spokane River.
Credit Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Ecology creates these rules to balance the water-flow needs of fish, recreationalists, and businesses. The new rule sets a base flow level for each season, and when the level is too low, entities with the newest water permits are not allowed to draw water. The flow rules are 850-cubic feet per second in the summer, and 1,700 cubic feet per second in the winter.

Ecology says the rule protects the river and balances the needs of all water users. But some water users are already unhappy. The Northwest Whitewater Association and Center for Environmental Law and Policy say the flow levels are too low and threaten the river. They say rafters prefer flows at 1,000 cfs or much higher, not 850.

Appeals of the rule can be made to the pollution control hearings board.

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