Is An Instream Flow Need a Beneficial Use?

by Robert T. Milhous, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort Collins, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Resources Planning and Management: Saving a Threatened Resource—In Search of Solutions


Western water law requires a use of water be a beneficial use of water and must be in the public interest. Instream use of water is a use that the public has decided is a use in the public interest. An instream need must be a beneficial use and not waste water. Also, the proposer of an instream flow need must be prepared to show the use is the best use of the water. The need to demonstrate beneficial use, no waste of water, and best use for an instream flow need requires some type of function between the instream benefits and flow. The use of judgment and of a hydrologic statistics fails to meet this test. The use of a habitat versus flow relation does meet the test.

Subject Headings: Instream flow | Public participation | Aquatic habitats | Water flow | Water reclamation | Recycling | Streamflow | Legislation

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