Washington Supreme Court upholds Spokane River water minimum

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) —

The Washington Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that a state law that put a minimum on the amount of water that must flow in the Spokane River was valid.

The Center for Environmental Policy and other environmental groups sued the state Department of Ecology, arguing that the 850 cubic feet (24 cubic meters) per second minimum was both arbitrary and too low a figure to properly maintain the river and its species, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Justice Barbara Madsen said in the unanimous decision that the state Department of Ecology had the authority to set the minimum and that the agency did its due diligence in coming to its 850 cubic feet (24 cubic meters) per second figure.

The department set the standard in 2015, then reviewed its findings after environmental groups disagreed with its conclusion. The agency ultimately rejected a request to amend the standard in 2016, which led to the lawsuit.

Trish Rolfe, executive director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Law, said the group was disappointed with the court’s ruling.

“We think this is a sad day for the Spokane River and the people of Spokane,” Rolfe said.