Washington Water Watch 
July 2016

In This Issue
Chehalis Watershed Plan
Enloe Case Update
Meet CELP's SUmmer Legal Intern!
H2Know Campaign Update
Take Action to Protect Clean Drinking Water!
Summer Membership Special
Keep Our Rivers Flowing!
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Stream Flows Below Average in Summer Months

Dear Members of CELP,

Summer is here, and thankfully we have so far averted the same historic drought conditions as those we experienced last year. But healthy flows in our rivers and streams are still in jeopardy.
 
Climate change is having an impact, and Washington's water resource management systems are designed around precipitation models that are no longer accurate. As our climate warms, maintaining healthy river systems calls for new and innovative approaches.
 
That's why CELP continues to work for the sustainable management of Washington's water resources. But we can't do it alone; we need the support of Washington residents like you who understand that protecting our rivers and streams will help everyone in Washington.
 
In this issue we have updates on the Enloe case, the H2KNOW Campaign, an introduction to our summer legal intern, as well as a background on the Chehalis watershed and recommendations.
 
In other news this week,  The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is being renamed in honor of late Nisqually tribal leader Billy Frank Jr. CELP applauds this move as a wonderful way to honor his legacy!


Tribal Civil Rights Leader Billy Frank Jr. and the newly named Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Best water wishes,                         

Trish
 
Trish Rolfe
Executive Director
trolfe@celp.org


PS. CELP works to protect Washington's water resources, but we can't do it without the support of loyal donors. Consider becoming a monthly donor, for as little as $10 a month, your donation will help CELP continue this important work. It's easy, just visit the  Donate page  on  www.celp.org ,  and follow the Pay Pal link, and check the recurring donation. All donations to CELP are tax deductible. 


Chehalis Watershed Plan
 
by CELP Volunteer Gwyneth Perry

The Chehalis River Basin, encompassing approximately 2700 square miles, begins in theWillapa Hills of southwestern Washington, and draws from the Cascade Foothills, the Black Hills of southern Puget Sound, and the southern Olympic Mountains. In the native Chehalis language, Chehalis means "shifting sands", which describes well the meandering effect of the river's successive floods. 

The Chehalis has experienced flooding since time immemorial, creating the fertile floodplains popular with the basin's farmers, and level ground, now populated by residents of towns and cities such as Centralia-Chehalis.  Historically, the twists and turns of the Chehalis and its tributaries also sustained a thriving salmon population. However, as in much of the Pacific Northwest, salmon populations in the basin have plummeted. Additionally, extreme floods seem to be occurring more frequently; the 100-year flood, as estimated in 1968, has been exceeded three times in the past 20 years.  Two of these events, in 2007 and 2009, submerged I-5 for several days - a substantial economic loss to the region.  In addition, with climate change, the basin is predicted to experience hotter and drier summers, reducing low flows essential for fish, and wetter winters, potentially increasing floods.

Map of the Chehalis Watershed


In November 2012, Governor Christine Gregoire convened a taskforce to find solutions to the two issues of damaging floods and degraded fish habitat in the Chehalis River Basin. The resulting recommendations include a flood-retention dam near Pe Ell, in the headwaters of the Willapa Hills, as well as a variety of land use management and environmental projects. Potential strategies to reach both the fish and flooding goals are described in the Ruckelhauser Center Alternatives Report (found here: http://chehalisbasinstrategy.com/publications/), and are currently being investigated through an environmental impacts statement.

CELP will continue to keep a close watch on this project as it progresses to evaluate the potential impacts to stream flows and fish. 
Enloe Case Update

by Dan Von Seggern

On July 11, the Washington Court of Appeals denied CELP's appeal of a water right issued to the Okanogan County PUD for hydropower generation at Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River. The PUD's proposed use of water would conflict with the instream flow established to protect the Similkameen, and in particular would reduce flows over Similkameen Falls, immediately downstream of the dam, and impact the aesthetics of the Falls.  

State law requires that the Department of Ecology must determine that the proposed use of water will not be detrimental to the public interest before approving a water right. We challenged the Enloe Dam water right in part because Ecology, in conflict with the law, issued it before determining that the impact on aesthetics will not be detrimental to the public interest. Ecology is instead requiring that the PUD carry out a study to determine these aesthetic impacts, and the amount of water that will be required to flow over the Falls, only after the project is completed. 

There are very real uncertainties regarding how much flow is needed to preserve the aesthetic values associated with Similkameen Falls. Water passed over the falls is water that does not generate electricity, and the results of the study could show that enough water must remain in the stream to make the project economically unviable. Ecology's decision to delay the study until the project is completed (and tens of millions of dollars have been spent) means that there would be great pressure to allow it to continue operating even if it proves to harm the public interest by destroying the aesthetic value of the Falls.

The Court of Appeals held that it was within Ecology's discretion to issue the water right first and evaluate flows later. CELP believes that this is an incorrect application of the law, and that it could encourage future applicants to attempt to bypass the public interest determination. We are currently evaluating our options for further appeal of the decision.

Adam on the Salmon River in Idaho
Meet CELP's Summer Legal Intern!

Adam Wicks-Arshack is CELP's summer legal intern. He is a pursuing a concurrent JD/PhD at the University of Idaho focusing on water resource management, Pacific lamprey and freshwater mussels. This summer Adam will be attending hearings, county water conservancy board meetings, and spending plenty of time paddling on Washington's rivers and streams. At CELP, Adam is currently focused on scrutinizing inter-basin water right transfers and researching connections between water withdrawals and the Columbia River Treaty. Although this is Adam's first experience working in an office he has made sure to block out time on the River. In June, Adam helped guide a dugout canoe into a historic tribal canoe journey and gathering at Kettle Falls. The following week Adam participated in a research trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, where he aided Shoshone-Bannock Tribe researchers in freshwater mussel surveys and documenting impacts to cultural resources. Asked why he wanted to work at CELP this summer, Adam responded, "It really feels good to represent the rivers, and flows rather than financial or property interests," adding, "It's just the right thing to do." 

Read more about CELP's interns past and present. Interested in interning with CELP? We will be accepting applications for a Summer 2017 internship from January-May, 2017.
Spokane River at 1,000 cfs
Spokane River nears 1,000cfs;  H2KNOW campaign launches public education effort

By John Osborn
 
On July 28 the H2KNOW campaign reminded the households and businesses in the Inland Northwest to conserve water to help the Spokane River.  As daily temperatures rise, people and businesses are using more water, and Spokane River flows are dropping.
 
"Every time people turn on a faucet to water yards, or the City waters its golf courses, we harm the Spokane River," said Tom Soeldner with the H2KNOW campaign and a retired Lutheran pastor.  "Our message is:  use water wisely, and know that you can help the Spokane River by conserving water."
 
People can take five actions that will conserve water and help the Spokane River:
  1. Reduce outdoor watering (especially stop over-watering grass)
  2. Replace lawn with low-water plants
  3. Fix broken or clogged pipes and sprinkler heads
  4. Fix leaks in all plumbing fixtures
  5. Install water-efficient devices (such as low flow toilets and shower heads)
Kayakers preparing to float the Spokane

The inland Northwest is notable for its hot, dry summers. Water used by 600,000 people in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene region comes from the Spokane-Rathdrum Aquifer, which also supplies the Spokane River.  Water that would otherwise flow from the aquifer to the Spokane River is intercepted for human use contributing to low river flows.  Low flows harm fish, wildlife, recreation opportunities, and businesses that benefit from the river.   Large municipal wells that are close to the River, such as the City of Spokane's Well Electric facility, can have an immediate depleting impact on river flows. 
 
Spokane River flows are monitored at the USGS Monroe Street Gage , a measuring device located just downstream of the Monroe Street bridge.  Interested parties can watch flow trends on the web or in the local newspaper.
 
H2KNOW organizers note that, while the region is not yet suffering a repeat of last summer's sustained high temperatures and lack of rainfall that caused high water consumption, high temperatures are in the forecast and will prompt increased water use, resulting in a decrease to Spokane River flows.
 
The H2KNOW campaign is a community-based water conservation project hosted by the Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Sierra Club.
 
Take Action to Protect Clean Drinking Water in WA State

Every day industrial dairy operations in Washington State generate millions of pounds of manure. Unlike human waste, it's untreated, and when it isn't managed properly, it pollutes our waterways, shuts down Puget Sound shellfish beds, and worst of all, contaminates our drinking water supplies, putting public health at risk.

Big Ag wants a weak approach to managing this pollution, and so far the WA State Department of Ecology -- the state agency charged with protecting Washington's ground and surface waters - seems to be listening to them. They've issued a new draft permit for these industrial operations that won't protect our waterways and drinking water supplies from this pollution.

The WA Dept of Ecology is accepting public comments on this issue until August 17th. Here is the link to comment:
With your help, we can make sure Washington's waterways and drinking water supplies are protected from harmful manure pollution.

It's this simple: if the Dept of Ecology has a strong permit for these industrial dairy farms, we can protect our waterways and drinking water from dairy pollution. A strong permit would include these three key provisions:
  •  Clear and enforceable limits on pollution.
  • Ground and surface water testing, and
  • A requirement to use cost-effective technology, such as synthetically-lined manure lagoons, which could dramatically reduce pollution.
Give $250 to CELP and receive a free book!

Thanks to a generous donation from Professor William H. Rodgers, donors who give $250 or more to CELP during the months of July and August will receive a free copy of The Si'lailo Way - Indians, Salmon and Law on the Columbia River

Donations from individuals  are a huge part CELP's overall yearly fundraising, and support our general operations and programs. As we start seeing the effects of climate change on our state's rivers and streams, we have more work than ever to do to ensure the health and sustainability of our waterways - please consider a gift of $250 or more to CELP this summer to help us protect Washington's waters in 2016 and beyond!

Make a donation online through CELP's website here.
Member Photo Submission
There are a number of small waterways in the Skagit River Delta that are influenced by the tide. These are two that flow into Padilla Bay.


- Photo and caption submitted by Frank James, Bellingham, WA


Have a photo or story you want to share about your favorite river? Please submit them to Elan at development@celp.org.

Thanks for taking the time to read Washington Water Watch!  Thanks to your help, CELP has accomplished much but, as you can see, more needs to be done. You can support our work by making a donation online here, or mailing a check to: 

85 S Washington St #301, Seattle, WA 98104 

The Center for Environmental Law & Policy is a statewide organization whose mission is to protect, preserve and restore Washington's waters through education, policy reform, agency advocacy, and public interest litigation.

If you care about a future with water, please become a CELP member today!
You can reach us at:  206-829-8299 or  email us .