WRIA 55 Restoration Plan Projects
Bear Creek Managed Aquifer Recharge Project
The purpose of this project is to increase flow in Bear Creek and the Little Spokane River during low flow periods. This is accomplished by
diverting water during high flow periods into an off-channel infiltration gallery. This raises the groundwater table above what would normally occur and increases groundwater discharge to surface water. The project proposes to divert 1 cfs (cubic feet per second) over a three month period for a total of 182 acre-ft per year. A preliminary field investigation and design has been completed for the project.
In 2020 Spokane County received a Streamflow Restoration Grant from the Washington Department of Ecology to conduct supplemental field investigations, complete final design and permitting, and construct the project. The County anticipates constructing the project during summer of 2022.
Eloika Lake is a unique surface water storage opportunity. Approximately 1,400 acre-ft of water can be stored for release during low flow periods while still operating within the natural range of lake levels experienced each year. To accomplish this a control structure would be built to hold water that normally recedes during June and hold it until August, when river flows are the lowest. In addition to the control structure 100 acres of wetland at the south end of the lake would be restored and enhanced.
In 2020 Spokane County received a Streamflow Restoration Grant to pursue further evaluation and design for this project. The first element of the project is to conduct field investigations such as topographic and bathymetric surveys, wetland delineations, and geotechnical evaluations. The second is to conduct the necessary analysis of hydrology and hydraulics, water quality, fish habitat, and cultural resources. Based on the findings of the field investigations and analysis, project design and permitting will follow. An important component of this project is outreach and coordination with lake shore property owners to determine how this project can be implemented so that it aligns with how they utilize their property while still providing stream flow and aquatic habitat benefits.
Water Rights Acquisition
Water right acquisitions improve streamflow through the retirement of an ongoing water use. In 2019 Spokane County submitted a grant application to purchase of five water rights within the Little Spokane River Basin. In lieu of awarding the grant, the Department of Ecology is directly purchasing the water rights. The water rights will be transferred into the State Water Rights Trust program specifically for the purpose of offsetting future permit-exempt domestic water use in WRIA 55.
Little Spokane Water Bank
Spokane County owns and operates the Little Spokane Water Bank. The bank is comprised of two water rights totaling 283 acre-ft/year held in the State Trust Water Rights Program. The water bank offsets new permit-exempt use in the same way as water right acquistions, but includes one additional step, the issuance of a mitigation certificate. Once a mitigation certificate is issued it is permanently dedicated to offsetting water use for a new permit-exempt use. The quantity of water held in the water bank represents the total potential quantity of water that could be used as a water offset and the quantity of water associated with mitigation certificates that have been sold represent the actual quantity of water that has been offset.