WSR 05-05-076

PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY

DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY


[ Order 05-02 -- Filed February 15, 2005, 2:14 p.m. ]

Subject of Possible Rule Making: This rule making will establish chapter 173-503A WAC, Samish River subbasin instream resources protection program, Lower and Upper Skagit water resources inventory area (WRIAs 3 and 4), to include new rule language that will set instream flows and may include tools for managing water in the Samish subbasin.

Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: Chapter 90.82 RCW, Watershed planning; chapter 90.54 RCW, Water Resources Act of 1971; chapter 90.22 RCW, Minimum water flows and levels; chapter 90.03 RCW, Water code; chapter 90.44 RCW, Regulation of public ground waters, and chapter 77.55 RCW, Construction projects in state waters (hydraulic code).

Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: The possible adoption of this rule is needed to protect instream values within the Samish subbasin of water resources inventory area 3, including ESA listed fish (Chinook are threatened; Coho are candidate).

Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: Ecology has exclusive statutory authority under chapter 90.22 RCW to establish minimum instream water flows. Consultation will occur with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and tribes. In establishing instream flows, RCW 90.03.247 directs ecology to "consult with, and carefully consider the recommendations of, the department of fish and wildlife, the department of community, trade, and economic development, the department of agriculture, and representatives of the affected Indian tribes." We will also coordinate with the appropriate federal agencies.

Process for Developing New Rule: During rule making, draft language will be shared with the local watershed planning unit, if they convene; Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Community, Trade and Economic Development, and Agriculture; tribes; and other interested parties. A focus sheet will be written and distributed to mailing lists and email lists. A public hearing will be held to solicit comments from interested parties.

Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication by contacting Doug Rushton, Department of Ecology, Water Resources Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, (360) 407-6513, drus461@ecy.wa.gov, fax (360) 407-6574. For the latest updates on water resources issues, including the Samish Basin rule making, sign up for the Department of Ecology water resources e-mail list http://listserv.wa.gov/archives/water-resources.html or check the water resources website at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/wrhome.html.

February 15, 2005

W. G. Bolender

for Joe Stohr

Water Resources Program Manager

Washington State Code Reviser's Office