Regulators are planning new efforts to keep the state’s rivers from running dry, and they’re taking public input on which rivers to study next.
The state’s instream flow studies will look at how much water runs through a river under different conditions – say, in drought – and at how animals, plants and people like to use that water.
The results could determine, for instance, when local dams go into service – or let water companies know when they need a back-up water source.
“We need to manage so that everybody has a fair access to the water that they need,” says Wayne Ives with the Department of Environmental Services. “If we had a system that was big that took water from upstream of another system that needed the water, those two would be in conflict.”
An instream flow study can help prevent that, he says, while protecting the river ecosystem and preserving recreational access.
At least half a dozen of the state’s protected rivers could top the list for the next study, depending on public input. Ives says they hope to begin studying a river a year starting next spring.