Ecology Provides Flawed Documentation for Spokane In Stream Flow Rule

The Washington State Department of Ecology has determined to pass a rule change onto the Citizens of this state with the creation of an In Stream Flow Rule for the Spokane River and Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie: Chapter 173-557 WAC Water Resources Management Program (WRMP) for the Spokane River and Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) Aquifer and amendment to WAC 173-555-010. The DOE documentation has been provided on this website: CAPR has reviewed these documents and finds it is important to share our findings. Ecology is relying on the precautionary principal even though it has had over 40 years to conduct the studies that would be necessary to understand the ground and surface water resources of Eastern Washington. This is a MAJOR rule making and there are a great many impacts from this proposed rule, including the reduction of property values throughout the affect area and impacts to municipal water suppliers, and will provide determents to growth and planning in the WRIA. It will heavily impact agriculture and industry. This proposed rule would impact 1,000s of citizens and a minimum of over 10,000 square miles. Water reductions, restrictions, and mitigation are not attempted to be clearly and specifically codified by the DOE documentation. CAPR takes issue with Ecology having determined that an EIS is not required which is inconsistent with the SEPA codes. The provided SEPA is simply an inadequate and inappropriate SEPA Checklist. This checklist is not intended for rule making purposes and is therefore misleading to the public and lacking in the required science for this type of action. CAPR believes that the Department of Ecology is required to provide a complete SEPA as well as a complete EIS detailing the impact of the proposed WACs to the Environment, the People in this WRIA, and detailed Economic Impacts. It is incorrect to ask for the required Public Comment without providing this important information to the Public to study. The Public comment cannot be complete or accurate without this information. There are many errors in the SEPA checklist, but comments on those errors would require several pages, and would not apply, as a SEPA checklist is the wrong vehicle for a determination of non-significance. However a close look at the checklist would provide insight into the sophomoric preparation done by the DOE for this major rule change and it is clear that RCW 34.05 and its many provisions was entirely disregarded in DOE decision making. Ecology must be forced to prepare an EIS and provide detailed, peer reviewed and current science. The DOE has not provided the level of scientific study to justify placing any restrictions on water rights in this area. Ecology should be sanctioned until the agency provides the necessary studies conducted and prepares a complete SEPA, and detailed EIS that also addresses the cost benefit analysis, cumulative effects, and the economic impacts that will be realized if this rule is adopted. Furthermore it is clear that if this provided SEPA checklist is used for rulemaking, the DOE is putting the state at risk for several lawsuits. This direct quote from page 26 is one serious example of the flawed preparation the DOE has conducted. “There has been concern raised about possible conflict between implementation of this rule, if adopted, and implementation of requirements under the State Water Pollution Control Act, Chapter 90.48 RCW. And the federal Clean Water Act. The need to ensure compliance with water quality standards or discharge permit requirements may compel removal of waste water or storm water discharges to the Spokane River, potentially reducing stream flow in the river.” This statement alone should cause concern over the lack of a complete SEPA and EIS. Any activity related to the above quote would most certainly have a significant impact on the environment, people, and economics of the WRIA.

November 5, 2014