Monthly Archives: May 2020


Watch as CELP argues our case before the Washington State Supreme Court: Spokane River Instream Flow Rule

CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY, AMERICAN WHITEWATER, and SIERRA CLUB,
          Respondents,

    v.
STATE OF WASHINGTON, DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY,
          Petitioner.
Dan Von Seggern
Ted Howard
Andrew Hawley



Hon. Bob Ferguson
  Stephen H. North
  Clifford Hiroshi Kato

When: The case will be heard on May 14th 2020 at 9:00am
How to View: Anyone can watch the case on TVW.org here

Background: The Spokane River’s Instream Flow Rule (WAC Chapter 173-557) was adopted in 2015.  

Instream flow rules are intended to protect a wide variety of instream values and uses, including fish & wildlife, recreation, navigation, and aesthetic values. In adopting the Spokane River Rule, Ecology considered only the needs of fish and adopted a summer flow of 850 cubic feet per second. This is a near-drought level for the river and would be devastating to whitewater rafting, kayaking and other recreational uses of the Spokane.

In 2016, along with American Whitewater and the Sierra Club, we filed a challenge to the Rule’s summer instream flow. We argued the state was required to consider all uses of the river, not just habitat needs of fish, in adopting instream flow rules. The challenge was initially denied in the Thurston County Superior Court.

In 2017, we appealed the Superior Court’s decision to the Court of Appeals, Division II. In 2019, the court ruled in favor of CELP and the Spokane River advocates, finding that Ecology failed to protect summertime flows needed by the river and other instream flow values.

Ecology requested review of the Court of Appeal’s decision by the Washington State Supreme Court, which accepted the case. CELP Staff Attorney Dan Von Seggern will argue our case before the Court on May 14th, 2020. We will continue to fight for an instream flow rule that protects the Spokane River and its users.