Washington Water Watch 
January 2017

In This Issue
2017 Legislative Session
CELP Wins Motion for Summary Judgment
Watersheds to Watch: The Lyre-Hoko
Winter Waters
Report on the Office of the Columbia River
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]
Working to Protect Washington's Waters in Olympia

Dear Friends of CELP -

2017 is off to a great start thanks to our loyal supporters like you. We met our Challenge Grant in December by raising over $12,000 in donations. Now our focus shifts to the Legislative Session, and continuing to protect the public interests - your interests - in fish and wildlife habitat, recreational use of rivers, scenic beauty, and drinking water supply for our communities .
But these are not ordinary times. Washington's water resources are under unprecedented attacks. The Trump Administration has begun dismantling the EPA, issuing orders that have stopped all grants and loans that help local communities clean up toxic waste and restore our waterways. Some of Washington's conservative Senators and Representative have filed bills that would overturn the recent Washington Supreme Court Hirst decision, which required counties to ensure that new domestic wells do not impair instream flows and other senior water users. The proposed bills would undermine water law and make instream flows, which are water rights for fish and other instream uses, lesser water rights that can be impaired by permit exempt wells. If these attacks continue it could lead to the extinction of Pacific Salmon in Washington State. This would hurt our economy and the tribes that rely on salmon for food and their culture. 
In this issue, you'll find an update on Water Resource legislation making its way through the House and Senate, an article on our recent win in the Leavenworth Federal Fish Hatchery Case, a story about the Lyre-Hoko watershed (this is the first in a series examining unprotected watersheds in Washington State), and an announcement for CELP's Winter Waters event.
CELP continues to work tirelessly to protect Washington's freshwater resources and ensure wise and sustainable water management for future generations. If you are not a current member of CELP, or if you haven't renewed your membership for 2017 please do so today by donating on our website .

The Columbia River near the Beebe Bridge

Trish Rolfe
Executive Director

PS.  Now more than ever, CELP needs to  be there to defend our  freshwater resources  and ensure wise and sustainable water management for future generations, but we can't do it alone. Consider making a tax deductible  donation today

Legislative Session: A Summary of Water Bills
by Trish Rolfe and Bruce Wishart

Water is a major topic again in the legislature this year, and several bills have been introduced that would undermine or overturn several key Washington Supreme Court water law decisions, including the Hirst decision on permit exempt wells handed down in October. CELP has been busy testifying on these bills in Olympia to ensure protection of Washington's water resources. 

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 then sells or transfers the water, the water is legally available for the 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.-not relinquished). This bill would avoid that review, allowing relinquished rights to be revived. House companion bill is HB 2084.
  • SB 5003:  Allowing New Projects to Mine Instream Flows                         
    This bill overturns several recent State Supreme Court decisions on water law, allowing approval of new projects that reduces instream flows necessary to protect endangered salmon. Ecology could use different tools to impair instream flows to support new land use development and other new out of stream projects. This would result in giving a super priority to permit-exempt wells, harming senior water rights holders and instream flows.
Read more here.

CELP Wins Motion for Summary Judgment in Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Case
by John Osborn
On January 9th, the U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr.  ruled that the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery is unlawfully discharging pollutants into Icicle Creek without a Clean Water Act permit. The Hatchery, owned and funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has been doing so since 1979.
"The Leavenworth Hatchery is dilapidated and old, with decades of deferred maintenance that needs serious upgrades," said Dan Von Seggern, staff attorney for the Center for Environmental Law & Policy. "The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which operates the Hatchery, has prioritized maximizing production of the hatchery fish at the lowest cost possible while failing to fund projects needed to bring its pollution discharges to Icicle Creek into compliance with the Clean Water Act."
Icicle Creek is a tributary to the Wenatchee River, and drains a portion of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The stream is home to threatened and endangered fish species, including steelhead, Chinook salmon, and bull trout. The Hatchery is located on the banks of Icicle Creek, approximately three miles from the river's confluence with the Wenatchee River.
The Leavenworth Hatchery raises 1.2 million fish annually in a confined space, generating pollutants that are released untreated into Icicle Creek. Pollutants include disease-control chemicals, pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, antibiotics, chemicals used for disinfection and other fish culture purposes, residual chemical reagents, salts, and chlorinated water. The phosphorus discharge contributes to violations of water quality standards in Icicle Creek and the Wenatchee River.
Read more here.

The Lyre River, photo from wikipedia.org
Watersheds to Watch: WRIA 19, the Lyre-Hoko

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

by Elan Ebeling

Background on Instream Flow rules in Washington Sate:

In 1998, the Washington State Legislature passed the Watershed Management Act, which provides a framework for local governments, affected Indian Tribes, citizens, and stakeholders to develop plans to manage the water resources within their watershed. There are 62 watersheds or Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs, pronounced "Why-ras") in Washington State. 

In addition to the mandatory issue of water quantity, planning groups may choose three optional components to include in their plans: making instream flow recommendations that the Department of Ecology can use to establish instream flows by rule, water quality, and fish habitat. While some of the 62 watersheds have recently adopted instream flow rules (like the Dungeness Rule which was adopted in 2013, and which CELP successfully helped to defend in court in 2016), far more have insstream flow rules that are decades old or no instream flow rule at all.

Instream flow rules act as a "water right for the river," and function the same way as any other legal water right, protecting instream resources from future water withdrawals. These rules are important for ensuring that there is enough water in rivers and streams to provide for clean water, fish habitat, recreation, and aesthetics, and are especially important given the threat of climate change and the state's historic drought of 2015.

WRIA 19: The Lyre-Hoko

WRIA 19, designated as the Lyre-Hoko watershed, is located in Clallam County in the northwestern most part of the Olympia Peninsula, spanning from the tip of Cape Flattery to just west of the Elwha River basin. WRIA 19 encompasses the major waterways of the Lyre, Seiku, Hoko, Clallam, Pysht, East and West Twin Rivers, and Salt and Deep Creeks, which drain directly into the Strait of Juan de Fuca along with many other smaller streams.

CELP has identified WRIA 19 as a critical watershed in Washington State. The Olympia Peninsula was one of the first three regions where Governor Inslee declared drought conditions in 2015 (the Lyre-Hoko watershed was named specifically along with the Quilcene-Snow, Elwha-Dungeness, Sol Duc-Hoh, and Queets-Quinault). WRIA is also an important watershed for salmon - it encompasses 27 separate salmon-bearing rivers and streams that support Chinook, chum, and coho. 

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: ELCA, Thomas Soeldner and Linda Finney, Kathy Dixon, Columbia Institute for Water Policy, John and Rachael Osborn, 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 mining and smelting wastes into streams and rivers . The extent of the pollution is truly staggering. There would be no cleanup -- 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. Decisions include how Tribal descendants will be affected seven generations into the future.

Read more here.

New Report Debunks Washington's Dam-Building Program

by Rachael Paschal Osborn

Originally published in the 

Over the past ten years the Washington Department of Ecology  Office of the Columbia River (OCR) has spent $200 million financed by taxpayer-backed bonds in an attempt to build more dams and increase water supplies in eastern Washington. OCR is quite adept at touting its achievements, particularly when the legislative budget process rolls around.
However, a new, independent report by Power Consulting of Missoula concludes that the OCR is overstating its accomplishments, and suggests that the Washington Legislature should seek a performance audit of the program before it considers shelling out any more of the public's cash. Specifically, the Power Report concludes that OCR has:
  • Misrepresented the amount of water that it has actually put to use in eastern Washington,
  • Failed to acknowledge the need for hundreds of millions more dollars to bring current projects to fruition, and
  • Wasted a lot of money investigating proposed new dams that it should have known could never be built.
The report,  Department of Ecology Office of Columbia River: The Last Ten Years , examines OCR's decade long agenda of studying dam sites and developing water projects, with in-depth review of the Odessa Subarea water project, the Yakima Integrated Water Plan, and the Icicle Strategy. The conclusions are eye-opening.
Read more here.

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 .