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Center for Environmental Law & Policy v. Washington Department of Ecology

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20115
Nos. 51439-7-II, (Wash. App. Ct., 06/26/2019)

A state appellate court held invalid the Department of Ecology's administrative rule establishing summer minimum instream flows for the lower reach of the Spokane River. Environmental groups challenged the validity of the rule, arguing that it exceeded the Department's authority under the Water Resources Act and Minimum Water Flows and Levels Act. The court found the Department exceeded its authority to establish a minimum instream flow because it determined the flow for the purpose of narrowly protecting only one instream value—fish—rather than considering a range of instream values. The court also found that the Department's explanations for establishing minimum instream flows based only on fish habitat studies without considering how the proposed flow would impact other instream values was arbitrary and capricious. It therefore held the rule invalid.