Washington Water Watch 
February 2017

In This Issue
2017 Legislative Session
Action Alert!
Watersheds to Watch: The Grays-Elochoman & Cowlitz
Winter Waters
Paddle the Hanford Reach
Keep Our Rivers Flowing!
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Upcoming Events
March 10, 6:30 pm
Winter Waters
Patsy Clark Mansion
2208 W 2nd Avenue Spokane
Buy tickets here.
Join CELP and the Upper Columbia River Group Sierra Club to honor the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. For sponsorship opportunities, please email John Osborn at  [email protected]

March 16th, 7:00 pm
Eileen Pearkes Book Reading
Auntie's Bookstore
402 W Main Ave
Spokane, WA 99201
More info here

May 13 & 14
Paddle the Hanford Reach
This May, CELP Board Member and experienced paddler John Roskelley will lead two guided kayak tours of the Hanford Reach section of the Columbia River.
Buy tickets here.
Dear Friends of CELP -

We've had our fair share of crazy weather so far this year, and while those of us on the west side of the state are used to rainy winters this year has been a particularly wet and cold one. Seattle is on pace to have the second wettest February on record, and snowpack in the cascades is 95% of normal. This should mean that we will have plenty of water when summer comes around, but climate change is creating unpredictable weather patterns. A warm spring could still impact river flows and fish. That's why CELP continues to work to protect our rivers and streams, and educate Washingtonians about the impacts from Climate Change on our water resources. 
The Legislative Session is in full swing, and CELP has been in Olympia promoting sustainable water use, and fighting bills that would harm our rivers and streams and the fish and wildlife that rely on them.
In this issue, you'll find an update on the water legislation making its way through the Legislature, a story about the Grays-Elochoman & Cowlitz watersheds (this is the second in our  series examining unprotected watersheds in Washington State), and an update on CELP's upcoming events.
The impacts of Climate Change pose a unique risk to Washington's water resources, and to the communities that rely on them. If Ecology continues to manage the state's water resources like it has, it will not only impede the recovery for wild salmon, but impact agriculture and the recreational use of our rivers and streams. These conditions make CELP's work of promoting sustainable use of our water resources essential, and we are the only statewide organization working full time to change water policy. But we can't do it alone.
Trish Rolfe
Executive Director

PS. Help us face these challenges head on and work to ensure healthy flowing rivers in Washington State for generations to come. Make your tax deductible donation today

Legislative Session Update
by Trish Rolfe 

We have reached the first set of bill cut off dates, and though this has limited the number of bills we are working on, there are still some bad bills that we will need to work hard to stop. We do expect the legislature to go into special session, so anything can happen. Thanks to the support of our loyal members, CELP will be there to stand up for our rivers and streams until the session ends.
Senate Bills that CELP Opposes  (these bills would negatively impact instream flows and salmon):
  • SB 5010:  Avoiding Ecology Review of Expansion of Agricultural Water Rights as a Result of Claimed Conservation          
While we support and encourage water conservation, this bill would bypass a process in existing law to ensure that when a farmer conducts conservation and then sells or transfers the water, the water is legally available for new use. Farmers who wish to do conservation can use the established "Trust Water Rights Program" in current law to avoid relinquishment of the water saved by conservation practices.
  • SB 5005:  Converting an Agricultural Right to a Municipal Right without Ecology Review              
Under current law, when a water right is transferred from agricultural use to municipal use, Ecology does a review to ensure that the water right has been in continual use (i.e.- it has not been relinquished). This bill would avoid that review, allowing relinquished rights to be revived and increasing water use.
  • 2SSB 5239: Overturning Hirst and Allowing Wells to Harm Instream Flows
Overturns the Supreme Court's Hirst decision, and allows unmitigated development that will harm existing users of water. This bill also completely undermines instream flows, making them subordinate to new wells.

  • SB 5269:  Regarding the processing of applications for Columbia river water right permits to clarify legislative intent to ensure that the rules can be implemented as written. Allows for out of kind mitigation for impairment of instream flows.

House Bills that CELP opposes (these bills would negatively impact instream flows and salmon):
  • 1934: Regarding the processing of applications for the Columbia river water right permits to clarify legislative intent to ensure that the rules can be implemented as written; companion bill to SB 5269.

Allows for out of kind mitigation for impairment of instream flows on the Columbia River System.

CELP supports:
  • 1172: Encouraging low-water landscaping practices as a drought alleviation tool. 

Help CELP defeat the four Senate Bills from above by calling your state legislators and asking them to  VOTE NO  on  SB 5010 SB 5005 SB 5239 , and  SB 5269

Look up your state legislators by typing in your address  here.

For more information and to read full drafts of the bills, see here.

Cowlitz River at Castle Rock - photo from the WA State Department of Ecology
Watersheds to Watch: WRIA 25/26: the Grays-Elochoman & Cowlitz

This is the second in a series of blog posts examining unprotected watersheds in Washington State

by Elan Ebeling
WRIAs 25 and 26 are located in southwestern Washington, and include large portions of Lewis, Cowlitz, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties. WRIA 25, known as the Grays-Elochoman watershed, encompasses the Grays and Elochoman Rivers, and Skamokawa, Abernathy, and Coal Creeks. WRIA 26, designated as the Cowlitz watershed, includes the upper and lower Cowlitz Rivers, Cispus, Tilton, Toutle, and Coweeman Rivers, and Mayfield Dam. Both WRIAs include many subbasins that drain into the Columbia River, however, they do not encompass the Columbia River itself.

WRIAs 25 & 26 are critical watersheds for fish - the Cowlitz basin alone supports 24 subpopulations of salmon and steelhead listed under the ESA, more than anywhere else in the lower Columbia region. In addition, the Cowlitz basin is one of the most densely farmed areas of western Washington, and water is over-appropriated. A   2012 Department of Ecology Water Availability report for the Cowlitz watershed describes a need for further regulations to manage the basin's water supply, including an instream flow rule as well as closing critical subbasins to future water withdrawals. The report also lists 17 river and creek basins that had been listed as "restricted" or "closed" to new uses as determined by the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Surface Water Source Limitations.

Although the Department of Ecology acknowledges the need for regulations in WRIAs 25 and 26, the rulemaking process has not been completed. The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board (LCFRB) began work on a joint watershed plan for the Grays-Elochoman and Cowlitz basins in 1999. In 2006, a draft of the plan was unanimously adopted by Wahkiakum, Skamania, Lewis, and Cowlitz counties. The 2006 plan recognized that climate change will impact streamflows, and determined that water usage was already beyond a sustainable level. Among the plan's recommendations were instream flow rules for 10 rivers and streams, many closures of various subbasins, and the establishment of reservations in each basin to ensure an adequate water supply for future uses.

Read more here.

Winter Waters 2017: Honoring the Coeur d'Alene Tribe
    When:  March 10, 6:30 PM
    Where:  Patsy Clark Mansion, 2208 W 2nd Ave
    Spokane, WA

Please join us on March 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Spokane for honoring the Coeur d'Alene Tribe with the 2017 Watershed Heroes Award.  Our annual event - Winter Waters Celebration -  is jointly hosted by CELP and Sierra Club's Upper Columbia River Group. The event will be held at the Patsy Clark Mansion, 2208 W. 2nd Ave, and will include small foods, music, and a program honoring the Tribe.

Thank you to our 2017 event sponsors: Thomas Soeldner and Linda Finney, Kathy Dixon, Columbia Institute for Water Policy, ELCA, Enviroscience, John and Rachael Osborn, John and Joyce Roskelley, Bishop William Skylstad, Upper Columbia United Tribes, and Eymann Allison Hunter Jones, P.S. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact John Osborn at [email protected].

Honoring the Tribe
In the homeland of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, nearly a century of hard-rock mining in the Coeur d'Alene Mining District led to release of massive amounts of mining and smelting wastes into streams and rivers . The extent of the pollution is truly staggering. There would be no cleanup -- and no hope for protecting Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Spokane River from mining pollution -- without the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. The Tribe's work to protect and restore their homeland is historic with enduring benefits for the Tribe and indeed for all life. We wish to thank the Tribe for their assistance in providing background information for the following summary.  

Tribal World View
The Coeur d'Alene Tribe were the original land managers in the Basin. For the Tribe, all things living are interconnected. Relationship with other life is based on kinship rather than human supremacy. Resources are always to be used in a respectful and sustainable manner. Decision making includes considering how Tribal descendants will be affected seven generations into the future.

Read more here.

Paddle the Hanford Reach with CELP Board Member John Roskelley!

Go on a kayaking adventure to benefit the environment! This May, CELP Board Member and renowned mountaineer and paddler, John Roskelley, will be leading two kayak tours of the Hanford Reach segment of the Columbia River to benefit CELP. The Hanford Reach is the last non-tidal, free-flowing section of the Columbia River in the United States. The tour will launch at 9 a.m., and take paddlers 34 miles from Vernita Bridge to Ringold Springs. Depending on the speed of the water, the trip will take five to six hours. 

Kayaks, paddles, and life jackets provided.

Limited spots available on Saturday, May 13th or Sunday, May 14th.

T ickets are $150 per person. All proceeds will benefit the Center for Environmental Law & Policy's work to protect Washington's rivers and streams.

Contact Elan Ebeling at [email protected] with any questions.
Eileen Delehanty Pearkes Book Reading

CELP is excited to co-sponsor a book reading by author Eileen Delehanty Pearkes who will be sharing from her new book, "A River Captured: The Columbia River Treaty and Catastrophic Change" on  March 16th, 7pm at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane .

Who owns water, how should water be valued and can hydro-electric systems be managed more ethically? In 1964, the U.S. and Canada signed the Columbia River Treaty, governing international use of the upper Columbia River in southeastern B.C. Upcoming renegotiations will inform management of one of the Inland Northwest's most abundant natural resources. This important book explores the history of what happened and lays groundwork for a different approach.   
Eileen Delehanty Pearkes is an American who has lived in British Columbia for three decades. Her popular column in the North Columbia Monthly explores the landscape and human history of the upper Columbia River region. Author of several books, she take particular interest in the history and culture of the upper Columbia River watershed and its indigenous peoples.
Snowshoeing on the banks of the Methow River 

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 .