The Washington Department of Ecology has released a draft of its proposed instream rule on the Spokane River.
The rule establishes measuring points on the river and flow requirements at various times throughout the year.
The public has until the end of May to comment, said Keith Stoffel, manager of the water resources program in the Eastern Regional Office of the agency in Spokane.
A public outreach open house will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 14 at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center, located at 2426 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley, Wash.
Following comments on the preliminary draft, the agency will post the proposed rule, Stoffel said.
The impact to agriculture is expected to be minimal, he said.
There’s about 20 purveyors of water on the footprint of the Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, currently serving about 140,000 acre-feet, and enough for an additional 150,000 acre-feet, he said.
“Anyone who has property on the footprint of the aquifer should be served by those purveyors,” he said. Twenty-four applications for new water, most dated between the late 1980s and 2000, are on file, but for municipal water purveyors, not agriculture, he said.
Stoffel doesn’t expect additional agricultural applications.
The rule is intended to serve as a water right for the river, in the event of an adjudication, either internally in the state or between Washington and Idaho, Stoffel said.
“Before you can move forward and do anything, you’ve really got to have a record of who has what water rights,” he said. “We hope to have the river have a water right and have standing in that process.”