Environmental History 
of the Spokane River

Laws and Regulations

A look at current laws/regulations

In 1972, the federal Clean Water Act provided funding for protection efforts of the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

In 1995, under the Washington Interlocal Cooperation act, the Spokane Aquifer Joint Board was formed in 1995. This piece of legislation is detailed here: https://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=39.34 (RCW 39.34).

In 1998, a wellhead protection plan was published by The City of Spokane and the Spokane Aquifer Joint Board. It was last updated in 2007. This plan exists as an attempt to reduce potential contamination to this essential water source.

In 2004, voters approved a ballot measure to collect Aquifer Protection Area fees until 2024. These fees are used for things like ensuring safety of the water by removing contaminants and monitoring water quality.

Important legislation

Spokane County Code chapter 11.16 details the implementation of fees to finance aquifer protection. Additionally, chapter 11.17, “Spokane-Rathdrum Aquifer Protection Area, includes information such as establishment of the protection area and regulation of monthly fees for aquifer water withdrawal.

In the revised code of Washington State Legislature, Title 90 is titled “Water Rights-Environment.” While every chapter and section in this title is important, one particular section of this statewide legislation that is key for maintenance of the Spokane Aquifer is RCW 90.44.400. This section is about “groundwater management areas- purpose, standards, identification, and designation.” This focus of this section of legislation is to maintain groundwater systems are the state of Washington for future use.

Chapter 173-557 of Washington Administrative Code is titled, “Water resources management program for the Spokane River and Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) Aquifer.” This chapter of law code is broken into eleven sections. For information about future use of the two Spokane water sources, instream flows, and regulation review, click the link above.

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