Instream Flow

A minimum instream flow requirement is a water right for the stream and the resources that depend on it such as fish, wildlife, recreation, aesthetics, water quality and navigation. Instream flows are not a new idea. The Little Spokane River has had a minimum instream flow set since 1976. Watershed management groups around the state are examining local water resources and many are working with the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to set or revise instream flows in their watersheds. The intent is to set instream flows throughout the state.

Flow Status


Spokane County instream flow statuses:
  • Little Spokane River - Instream flow set in 1976, see DOE web page for specifics
  • Spokane River - Instream flow adopted January 2015, see DOE web page for specifics
  • Hangman/Latah Creek - Instream flow is not being considered at this time.
For additional information about watershed planning, visit our Watershed Planning page.

Setting Flows


Setting flows does not put water in streams and does not affect existing (senior) water rights. Instream flows protect the river from future withdrawals which would impair the minimum stream flows determined for each stream.

This 6-minute video created by Ecology is an explanation of Instream Flow.

A great deal more information can be found at Department of Ecology, Instream Flows.