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WWRC 97-05rr
10 Years Down The Road: A Game and Fish Perspective of the State's Instream Flow Law


Beginning well before passage of the state's instream flow law in 1986, there have basically been two perspectives on the subject of instream flows. One perspective has opposed the very concept, fearing generally that recognition of instream flows would, among other things 1) diminish existing water rights, 2) negatively affect the state's ability to use all the water allotted under interstate compacts and supreme court decrees, 3) be impractical without storage specifically for this new water right and 4) limit traditional water development opportunities. The other perspective is generally supportive of instream flows. They thought instream flows would restore flows in dewatered stream segments, expand recreational opportunities and related economies, and put some legitimate controls on water development to name a few goals. Both felt very strongly about the rightness of their cause and both saw (and many still see) the state's instream flow law as validating their concerns.

Having worked with the instream flow process now for just over 10 years, some patterns and tendencies are becoming evident that in some cases support, but in other cases refute, many of the above misgivings and hopes. The following list of the Top Ten Problems With The State's Instream Flow Law is based on this history and shows one perspective of how the law really works.

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