Streamflow restoration planning

As part of Streamflow Restoration (Chapter 90.94 RCW), planning is required in 15 watersheds across the state. Planning is being led either by previously established, locally-led watershed planning groups or new committees chaired by us. All these groups must update or develop plans that help fish by protecting and improving rivers and streams in the watershed. 

What's required

The law requires planning in 15 watersheds that were impacted by the 2016 Hirst decision. Plans must, at a minimum, recommend actions to offset the potential consumptive impacts of new, rural, domestic water use on protected rivers and streams. The plans must also result in a net ecological benefit to the watershed.

In seven watersheds, locally-led planning groups originally formed under the Watershed Planning Act (Chapter 90.82 RCW) are required to update their existing watershed plans. Five groups have reconvened and begun planning. Two groups had expedited deadlines of February 1, 2019, and their planning stage is complete.

In the eight other watersheds that did not previously adopt a watershed plan, we are chairing new committees with participation from tribes, local governments, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, non-municipal water purveyors, irrigation districts, and interest groups. Members of these committees were determined in accordance with the law, and all committees have begun meeting.

After a plan is approved by a planning group, we will check that it complies with the law (RCW 90.94) and determine whether the plan will result in a net ecological benefit. If plans are not adopted by the deadlines identified in the law, we will move into rulemaking.

Track streamflow restoration planning

Learn about what's happening in the 15 watersheds, also called water resource inventory areas (WRIAs):