The Washington State Department of Ecology explains instream flow as "Ecology is required by state law to retain adequate amounts of water in streams to protect and preserve instream resources and uses (such as fish, wildlife, recreation, aesthetics, water quality and navigation). One of the best water management tools for protecting stream flows is to set flow levels in regulation. Specific stream flow amounts protected in a regulation are called “instream flows.”" this explanation can be found on the DOE website at this page: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/instream-flows/isfhm.html While the DOE has some dubious statements on the page such as, " Population growth and reduced snowpack continue to put more stress on this finite resource. No new water is being made!" it is still the agency that can influence and enforce law. The Spokane watershed is unique and the needs there should be addressed but the challenge here is to stay reality based. Is instream flow rule making really the best management tool, or is it just the most heavily relied on and invested in method? DOE states this is one of the best methods, what are the alternatives and have they been used to retain compliance with state law? CAPR has in the past published information regarding water, how it exists, and what happens with it. To refresh your memory and perhaps educate the DOE about the reality of water, we will republish that article here. Sustainability of Water by Steven Neugebauer "2/3 of our planet is water. Every day, billions of tons of water vapor enter the atmosphere to become clouds and eventually rain. This cycle occurs daily and has occurred since our oceans developed approximately 4 billion years ago and all of the earth’s water we had then, we still have now (we may even have more, because some of the water in the earth’s interior is believed to come to the surface during volcanic activity). There is no shortage of water and at least ¼ of every precipitation event is infiltrated and will eventually become ground water. Also, 95% of all rural water use is “recycled”, because it is returned to the ground water, much of the water infiltrates and eventually recharges ground water. However, some places get less rain than other places and if people concentrate in these areas, the demand for fresh water can outstrip the available supply, mainly because these people do exactly what Agenda 21 wants them to do, live in concrete paved, densely populated cities where precipitation cannot infiltrate and where used water is discharged to sewer treatment plants rather than into the ground. However, even in these areas, ground water is still present, however the concentration of people and industry has led to ground water contamination which means this ground water must be treated. Regardless, precipitation patterns change and some areas get more precipitation than others, but the hydrologic system is self sustaining and is where we get our water. The only water shortages that occur are for fresh water and these occur where people tend to accumulate in densely populated Cities. In this case it is not a shortage of water, it is a difficulty to get the water to these people, because the most effective way to use and reuse water is in a rural setting where the water is returned to the system shortly after it is used. The “environmentalists” acknowledge this to some extent by wanting pervious pavement, less impervious surfaces, and by wanting to infiltrate everything, however, this can upset the hydrologic balance in another way, by infiltrating too much water (as stated above, about 25% is typically infiltrated). There is a balance that must be maintained, however, the main reasons for fresh water shortages is that you live in an area where there is little precipitation such as Las Vegas, Palm Springs, or the middle east. This would not be a problem if the area is sparsely populated as would be the case normally, however, the Agenda 21 wants extremely dense population centers and this will exceed the capacity of the easily available water in the area. Even in these cases, the hydrologic system continues to work and ground water aquifers are recharged, except where the densely populated cities prevent this with their impervious surfaces and where their sewer treatment plants move the water to rivers or the ocean. This is one of many problems with the concept of concentrating everyone into one small area, you suck the resources from the area faster than they can be replenished. Rural life and even less dense urban life works with the system and as long as the population and land use does not exceed the natural recharge of the water supply, there is and will be plenty of water. After all, if we do not use it, it will simply end up in the oceans. However, we do need to use water as efficiently as the Romans did and if we did, we would see cheap electricity (hydropower is the cheapest and cleanest form of energy we have right now) and water supplies that are available because the dams provide sources of fresh water. The new dam designs allow fish to spawn safely, however in this state, we tear down dams on small rivers that will not benefit fish and will only benefit fishermen. Bottom line, none of the water on this planet leaves (other than small amounts to end up on the space station or in other space exploration activities) and it is constantly being converted into fresh water at a rate of billions of tons per day. This cycle has been going on for at least 3.5 billion years and will continue for at least another 10 billion years. There will be occasional shortages of surface water during droughts, but there is still ground water present that can be used during droughts. However, “smart” development is not that smart when you concentrate everyone into a small area where the water supplies will be quickly exceeded and you need to move water to the people, continuing to expand how far you have to go for water that is not used efficiently because these densely populated areas cannot infiltrate the water, they simply put it in a drain that connects to the ocean. If you want to see real waste, look at the densely populated areas or the way the WDFW calculates how much water fish need (this is pseudo science) in the in-stream rule cases. It seems that these people believe fish do not know how to survive without human intervention and that mother nature does not know how to provide for these species. In reality, these fish has survived mother nature and she can wreak more havoc than humans can. As I keep stating in my workshops, there were no fish in the Puget Sound for up to 5,000 years (no orcas either) because the Sound was a block of ice. The fish survived without being able to access any streams or rivers in the Sound and did quite well without our help for millions of years. However, by helping these fish get into point source roadside ditches and other point sources the environmentalists want to call streams, their “help” is causing more damage than anything Mother Nature could do to them. Water is completely self sustaining and the same amount we have always had will be here until the earth’s sun fails and becomes a red dwarf, when our planet will be engulfed and the water, vaporized."
It will be important for the citizens of Washington State to keep a close eye on the rule making processes involved in the DOE's rule making. And how tax dollars are being used in watersheds after rule making has developed into law. Dubious science and political agenda weigh heavily on the truth. The words used by the DOE are often anything but scientific or fact based. To attempt to give rivers a human face along with human rights is seemingly silly, yet the effort to do so is apparent. To quote the DOE, "An instream flow is a water right for the stream and the resources that depend on it." What exactly this means will depend on research and analysis of what has been done to date with instream flow rule making in the state watersheds. By sharing your water right with the stream, will you be asked to cut uses? Will these cuts be reasonable and feasible for you? Should ideals such as aesthetics be part of the equation? Exactly what data is being used and how is it being interpreted? Is the data being extrapolated into computer models, and how accurate are they in contrast to the reality of what is happening in rivers? These questions are all legitimate in view of a Governmental Agency which relies heavily on climate change "science" and fear tactics to enhance decision making. You can read this article about the CAPR Spokane Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights meeting with the DOE about the Proposed instream flow rules for the Spokane River of March 27, 2014 here: http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20140328/proposed-instream-flow-rule-protects-water-rights-ecology-says?utm_source=Capital+Press+Newsletters&utm_campaign=81f5bff48f-Daily_Ag_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4b7e61b049-81f5bff48f-69643045 Or better yet, watch the meeting here: http://youtu.be/xOUIZ_AsdJI