Protecting Water Rights
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
At a recent meeting of the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights in Otis Orchards representatives from the Washington Department of Ecology spoke about whether the proposed instream flow rule for the Spokane River and the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie aquifer system will impact existing water right holders. Ecology water section manager Keith Stoffel spoke to the group and said that the rule does not cover all of the Spokane watershed.
STOFFEL: It only covers the footprint of the aquifer itself and only in Washington. It does not pertain to Idaho. It’s just the Washington side of the border. The rule is for the river, but the river and the aquifer are in direct continuity with each other. This is one of the most prolific aquifers in the world. The water moves through it faster than just about any other aquifer in the world, and so the water in the river is sort of in constant communication with the aquifer water.
Stoffel stated that compared to Idaho, which has an instream flow rule for the Spokane River on the Idaho side and has nearly completed its adjudication process in which the state determines the validity of water rights, Washington’s efforts are farther behind, with the adjudication process at least two years from beginning.
STOFFEL: We have not looked at the value of water rights in the state of Washington and right now we’re at least two years out before we even start one. Idaho is closing in on finishing theirs in the next couple of years.
We’ll have more tomorrow on the reasons behind the proposed rule.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.