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Mon., May 12, 2014, 7:16 a.m.

Protection proposed for Spokane River minimum flow

A fisherman marvels at the start of the Spokane River Canoe Classic. (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)
A fisherman marvels at the start of the Spokane River Canoe Classic. (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)

FISHING -- The Spokane River could get "water rights" to maintaining minimum flows that would be especially beneficial to fish under a proposal that will be discussed in Spokane this week.

In an effort to protect and preserve water levels in the Spokane River, the Washington Department of Ecology is proposing a preliminary draft rule for the main stem of the river in Spokane County and a small portion of Stevens County.

The purpose of an instream flow rule is to give the river a water right, much like those granted to individuals, farms and municipalities. In order to issue the river a water right, the state has to go through the process of adopting a rule.

Ecology approaches instream flow rules differently in each watershed basin. Each rule area has unique needs due to geography, geology, population, and local water management.

The rule adoption process includes a robust public process and collaboration with the communities impacted by the rule. The public can provide input on the preliminary draft rule through an online feedback system. These comments may be incorporated into proposed rule language but will not be addressed formally.

A formal public comment period and hearing will be held later in the process.

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

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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