What is WRIA 59?

There are sixty-two (62) main watersheds designated in Washington State. These watersheds are called Water Resource Inventory Areas—or WRIA for short. The Colville River Watershed has been identified as the 59th watershed (WRIA 59).


The Importance of Watershed Planning:

Since the enactment of the 1998 Watershed Planning Act (RCW 90.82), local citizens have been directly involved in the development of watershed plans, and detailed implementation throughout Washington State. The purpose of the Watershed Planning Act is to provide “local development of these plans by placing it in the hands of people who have the greatest knowledge of both the resources… and the greatest stake in the proper long-term management of those resources.” (RCW 90.82.010)

For over ten years, local citizens serving on the WRIA 59 Water Resource Management Board (WRIA 59 Board) together with local, state, and federal agencies have been working on watershed planning activities in the Colville River Watershed. To date, the WRIA 59 Board has completed the WRIA 59 Watershed Plan, the WRIA detailed Implementation Plan, and has begun implementation of priority projects outlined in those plans.


WRIA 59 Water Resource Management Meetings:

The public WRIA 59 Board Meetings are held quarterly. Local residents are encouraged to attend and become involved in the local water resource management activities. For information on upcoming watershed meetings and other local water resource activities, please contact Stevens County Land Services at 509-684-2401, or send an email to Erik Johansen at

WRIA 59 Watershed Planning Reports:

The following WRIA 59 Watershed Plans and Technical Reports were developed for the Colville River Watershed, under the RCW 90.82 Watershed Planning Act:

  1. WRIA 59 Colville River Watershed Plan, Version 2.0 (Golder Associates, 2007)
    • WRIA 59 Plan Appendicies.pdf
  2. WRIA 59 Colville River Watershed Detailed Implementation Plan (Golder Associates, 2006)
    • Report Cover Pg.pdf
    • List of Appendicies.pdf
  3. The WRIA 59 Colville River and Tributaries Toe-Width Assessment Report (EES, 2009)
    • Final Report
    • Appendix A
    • Appendix B
  4. WRIA 59 Colville River Instream Flow Study Report (HDR, Inc., 2007)
  5. WRIA 59 Water Quality Assessment Report (Golder Associates, June 2004)
  6. WRIA 59 Assessment of Multi-Purpose Water Storage Opportunities (Brown & Caldwell, & GeoEngineers, June 2003)
  7. WRIA 59 Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5237 (USGS, 2004) (For copies, see below)
  8. WRIA 59 Water Resources Investigations Report 03-4128 (USGS, 2003) (For copies, see below)

These plans and technical reports are available in hard copy or CD for purchasing, at cost, by contacting the Stevens County Land Services office at (509) 684-2401.

Hard copies of two USGS WRIA 59 technical assessment reports are available at the County’s Land Services office at no cost while supply lasts. The USGS reports can also be viewed online at the following USGS website:


Implementation of Water Resource Management Structure:


WRIA 59 Water Resource Management Board:

In 2007, the original WRIA 59 Watershed Team structure changed over to operating as the newly formed WRIA 59 Water Resource Management Board, to provide the ongoing general oversight of the water resource management activities within the WRIA 59 Watershed. The WRIA 59 Water Resource Management structure is outlined in the WRIA 59 Watershed Plan, Version 2.0 (2007) and the WRIA Detailed Implementation Plan (2006).

WRIA 59 Watershed Management Partnership:

In WRIA 59 Watershed Management Partnership (WMP) was also formed in 2007, in accordance with RCW 39.34.200. The original WMP membership consisted of three public agencies within the watershed. In June 2008, three additional local governments joined the WMP. Currently, the WMP members include: (1) Stevens County, (2) Stevens County Conservation District, (3) Stevens Public Utility District (PUD), (4) City of Chewelah, (5) City of Colville, and (6) City of Kettle Falls. The purpose of the WMP is to provide the legal mechanism to apply for and administer the funding for the ongoing administration of the WRIA 59 Water Resource Management Board and WMP activities. Eligible local governments that have not yet joined the WMP will have opportunity to do so at annual membership meetings, according to the guidelines set forth in the WMP By-laws.


2010 Water Resource Implementation Tasks:


The WRIA 59 Water Resource Management Board (Board) has three prioritized tasks underway for 2010, as follows:

Task #1 – WRIA 59 Instream Flow Negotiations & Rule Making Project:

The Instream Flow Project began in 2006, first as an instream flow study to quantify the flows of the Colville River and 19 prioritized tributaries. The 2006 Instream Flow Study was completed by HDR Engineering Inc. In 2009, an additional stream study was completed by EES Consulting, using the Toe-Width Method. The WRIA 59 will be negotiating instream flows on those waterways with the Department of Ecology and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The results of the negotiations will be incorporated into a draft rule change, to support water resource management as outlined in the Watershed Plan and Detailed Implementation Plan.

Task #2 – Update WRIA 59 Watershed Plan:

The WRIA 59 Board will work with Stevens County to update the WRIA 59 Watershed Plan, Version 2.0.

Task #3 – Implementation Projects:

WRIA 59 Stream Monitoring Network Project: The WRIA 59 Stream Monitoring Network was developed during 2005-2009 to provide critical stream flow data to help with instream flow rule development preparation, and to establish a credible baseline of flow information – a necessary tool for ongoing water supply management within the Colville River Watershed.

Under an interlocal agreement with Stevens County, the Stevens County Conservation District provides the on-going operations and maintenance of the 10 stream gauges installed on the tributaries within the Colville River Watershed.


Water Storage for Future Water Supplies:

In the last 38 years, the population of Stevens County has more than doubled. When considering this rate of growth, together with the fact that the Colville River Watershed has been a ‘closed watershed’ for new water allocations since 1977, planning for future water supplies is critical for all who reside within the Colville River Watershed. Therefore, the WRIA 59 Water Resource Management Board (WRIA 59 Board) has placed a high priority on the research and development of water supplies to meet the current and future growth and economic needs of this area.

Construction of multiple water storage projects, together with the ability to obtain timely new water right permits, temporary permits, and/or water rights transfers from the stored water will all play important rolls in providing the necessary water supplies to support the rural families, farms, businesses, industries, and cities within the watershed. Some of the types of storage projects being considered have included small to medium sized ponds with seasonal storage, water storage with multipurpose uses such as hydropower, infiltration trenches, and aquifer storage and recharge projects

Mill Creek Water Storage Feasibility Study Underway: On September 25, 2008, the Stevens PUD was awarded a $125,000 grant from the Department of Ecology to study the feasibility of a water storage project on the South Fork of Mill Creek. The Mill Creek project was one of eighteen water resource projects selected in 2008 for funding from the Columbia River Water Supply Development Account (Account). In 2006, the Legislature established the Account to fund water storage and conservation projects and studies, for the purpose of increasing the State’s water supply and to enhance instream flows for fish. For more information on the eighteen projects approved for 2008 funding, visit Ecology’s website.

Request for New Water Storage Project Proposals: The WRIA 59 Board is researching multiple water storage projects to help meet the future water needs of the Colville River Watershed. A Water Storage Project Database was developed in 2009 to help track and match up water storage projects proposals with grant funding as funding becomes available. Anyone interested in submitting potential water storage project ideas for consideration or to learn more about local watershed planning efforts are encouraged to contact Stevens County Land Services at (509) 684-2401, or at the Courthouse Annex Building, located at 260 South Oak Street in Colville.