With the passage of the Watershed Management Act of 1998, Washington State established a pathway for developing locally-based watershed enhancement plans based on Water Resource Inventory Areas, or WRIAs. This optional program is outlined in Chapter 90.82 RCW and provides a framework within which citizens, tribes, local governments and others can collaborate to develop watershed management plans. Sponsored by the Washington Department of Ecology, all watershed management plans address water supply reliability issues, while water quality, instream flows, and habitat are optional.
In the Middle Snake Watershed (WRIA 35), Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, and Whitman Counties, the City of Clarkston, and the Asotin County Public Utility District joined to initiate organization of the WRIA 35 Planning Unit in 2002. The 37-member Middle Snake Watershed Planning Unit is comprised of the initiating governments and the following stakeholder groups:
The watershed planning process in WRIA 35 will address water supply, instream flows, water quality, and habitat issues. In summer, 2003, development of the Level 1 Technical Assessment will begin. This assessment will summarize current conditions in the watershed, and will identify existing data gaps. Completion of the Level 1 Assessment is anticipated by June, 2004. The Level 2 Technical Assessment will follow, focusing on detailed studies and gathering additional information to fill in those data gaps. These technical assessments will feed into the watershed management plan, tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of 2006. This watershed planning process will be coordinated with Salmon Recovery Planning and BPA Subbasin Planning ongoing in the watershed.