More tax dollars to be spent: Watershed councils to gain more control to "save" nstream flows if new bill is passed

On Jan. 9, 2004, a code reviser's version of the instream flow bill was distributed at Governor Locke's meeting with tribal representatives. The outline - and reviser's version follows:

Outline presented at Governor's meeting with tribal representatives:

Legislation to Achieve and Protect Instream Flows (Z-1095.1)

January 10, 2004


· Commit the state to achieving and protecting instream flows statewide
· Identify stream flows needed to ensure healthy watersheds, and that can be achieved
· Require the development of instream flow programs that identify and schedule the actions needed to achieve and protect flows
· Build on the implementation of watershed plans and similar programs, and make the state agencies accountable to work jointly with governments and water users to achieve and protect instream flows
· Direct funding for instream flow programs and evaluate long-term funding for state water management


1. Expand the existing Independent Science Panel (77.85 RCW) and charge them to provide scientific review of, and guidance for, the state instream flow program.


2. Adopt instream flows by rule for all mainstem rivers and key tributaries. Amend existing flow rules as needed to meet the requirements of this act.

3. Adopt instream flow rules under the schedule established in 90.82 RCW (watershed planning). In basins outside the 90.82 process, Ecology must adopt flow rules by 2010.

4. Instream flow rules must establish flow objectives that are hydrologically achievable under natural conditions and biologically defensible, and they must reflect variations according to climate (wet vs dry years).

5. Ecology must adopt standards for instream flow rules. Fish and Wildlife, in consultation with affected tribes and local planning units, must define mainstem rivers and key tributaries.


6. Instream Flow Programs (IFPs) are required for all watersheds:
· Ecology must adopt rules establishing minimum requirements for IFPs
· IFPs must specify actions, schedules, benchmarks, roles and responsibilities, funding, monitoring, drought response, program review/adaptive management, etc.
· IFPs must be designed to achieve flows within 10 years of IFP approval.
· IFPs will be due within one year of adoption of a new or amended instream flow rule.
· IFPs will be reviewed and modified as needed every 6 years.

7. IFP development:
· Watershed planning units may elect to develop the IFP jointly with Ecology.
· If the planning unit elects not to develop the IFP, or where local watershed planning is not occurring, the state would develop the IFP with the advice of local citizens.
· Ecology must consult with affected tribes on IFPs at all stages of development.

8. IFP review and approval:
· After public review, IFPs will require joint approval by Ecology and Fish and Wildlife
· Agency action on IFPs would be subject to appeal to the PCHB


9. To achieve instream flows or implement instream flow programs, Ecology may:
· fund a program to facilitate voluntary shared use agreements within a watershed
· acquire water rights (through donation, lease or purchase) for instream flows
· fund water conservation, water conveyance and multipurpose storage projects
· prioritize agency compliance resources redirect other water resources or agency indirect funding

10. Other Funding:
· Authorizes Dept. of Transportation to expend mitigation funding on approved IFPs
· Allows local governments to expend any amount of their water-related revenues on implementation of watershed plans
· Requires a study of tax incentives for water conservation
· Requires a study of state water resources administration and funding
· (FY 05 BUDGET NOTE: The Governorís supplemental budget request includes additional operating funds to implement this act, and additional capital funds to contribute to instream flows.)

11. Other Policies:
· Ecology may ask a superior court to protect instream flow rights and trust water rights
· New water rights are not issued until instream flow programs are approved (except for public health and safety, water budget neutral projects, or projects that benefit flows).
· Processing of new water right applications is prioritized in areas with approved IFPs.


12. Where the 6-year review concludes that IFPs are not being implemented and instream flows are not achieved, Ecology and DFW must take actions to achieve instream flows using any and all powers granted to the departments under current law, as needed.

13. Where the state agencies are not meeting the deadlines in this act, citizens may commence a civil action to ask the superior court to require the agencies to perform their duty.

Proposed bill - click here.



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