Washington Water Watch 
March 2018

In This Issue
Join CELP at Celebrate Water!
Give BIG 2018
WA Legislature Update
The Impacts of Hirst
Watersheds to Watch: WRIA 33
Welcome Nick Manning to CELP!
Keep Our Rivers Flowing!
Help ensure clean and flowing waters in Washington State by making a gift to CELP!

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Upcoming Events
April 11
8 am - 5 pm
One River, Ethics Matter
University of Montana in Missoula

As Canada and the United States prepare to negotiate and update the Columbia River Treaty, the " One River, Ethics Matter " conference series focuses on the Basin's dam-building era, consequences for rivers in western Montana, and opportunities to protect these waters in a time of climate change.

This event is free and open to the public. Learn more.

May 9, 2018
Seattle Foundation's Give Big
Support CELP during Give BIG 2018! The Seattle Foundation's eighth annual and final 24-hour giving drive is on Wednesday, 5/9. You can schedule your gift as early as April 26.

June 7, 2018
4-5 pm
CELP's Celebrate Water 2018 at 
Ivar's Salmon House

Save the date for CELP's annual fundraiser! We will be hosting a pre-reception CLE and once again awarding the Robert W. Johnson Award. Stay tuned for more details!

To buy tickets, go here.

July 28 & 29, 2018
9 am - 3 pm
2nd Annual Paddle the Hanford Reach

Go on a kayaking adventure to benefit the environment! This July, John Roskelley, internationally acclaimed mountaineer, CELP Board Member and author, will be leading two kayak tours of the Hanford Reach segment of the Columbia River.

Space is limited. Buy your tickets here!
Keeping Our Rivers Flowing

Hoh River - Photo: Nikki Morrison
De ar Friends of CELP,
After a sluggish start to the year, February and March have already flown by. But here at CELP, we are digging in our heels to protect and preserve Washington's waterways! It is shaping up to be an important year for water in Washington, between critical legislation and climate change exacerbating extreme weather patterns.
Back in January, the Washington Legislature passed ESSB 6091 (the "Hirst fix"), undoing the state Supreme Court's Hirst decision, which reaffirmed existing law requiring counties to ensure the legal and physical availability of water before granting building permits. The long-term consequences of this bill remain to be seen but are likely unequivocally disastrous not just for Washington's water supply, but also the fish, tribes and senior water rights holders that rely on it. 

Our new Water Policy Organizer, Nick Manning, has been working with community members to gauge the current state and management of the Cowlitz River, to determine future protections CELP can advocate for.  And mark your calendars: CELP will be hosting our annual fundraiser, Celebrate Water, on Thursday, June 7th! We will be honoring citizen activists  and presenting them with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award.

Our work would not be possible without supporters like you. We rely on our generous donations from our members and supporters to hold our lawmakers and agencies accountable for protecting Washington's rivers and streams. Renew your membership today on our secure website.
In this issue, you'll find more on this and other water legislation, including a legislative wrap up, an article on the impacts of the  Hirst  fix,  more information on Celebrate Water and Give BIG, the latest edition of Watersheds to Watch, and an introduction to CELP's newest staff member, Nick Manning.

  Trish Rolfe
Executive Director

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

Chehalis River
 Join CELP on June 7th for
 Celebrate Water 2018!

On June 7th, CELP will host its annual Celebrate Water event commemorating another successful year of CELP's work in Washington State and present the  Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award to the group of citizen activists for their advocacy and efforts to protect our state's water resources.

June 7th, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Ivar's Salmon House
401 NE Northlake Way
 Seattle, WA 98105

Pre-reception CLE, 4:30 - 5:30 pm

Stay tuned for more details about our honorees, speakers, topics and sponsors.

Give Big Is Wednesday, May 9th

Support CELP this year during Give BIG! The Seattle Foundation is hosting its eighth and final Give BIG this year, an all-day giving event to promote philanthropy in the Seattle area.

You can schedule your gift to CELP as early as April 26th through May 8th. Give BIG runs from midnight to midnight on May 9th.  Go here for CELP's Give BIG profile.

2018 Legislative Session Wrap Up
by Dan Von Seggern

The big water news in the 2018 Legislative session was the alleged "Hirst fix" or ESSB 6091, which has been discussed previously in WA Water Watch. Several other bills which would have encouraged water conservation in Washington did not ultimately pass the legislature, although progress was made. Finally, the Legislature was, once again, unable to get a carbon tax over the finish line before adjourning on March 8, resulting in the launch of a citizen initiative on that topic.

ESHB2327  (appliance efficiency): As introduced, this bill would have mandated new water and energy efficiency standards for many household appliances and fixtures such as faucets and showerheads. After passing the House, the bill was amended in the Senate to include only the water efficiency standards.  Unfortunately, although placed on the Senate floor calendar, session ended before a final vote could be scheduled on the bill. Had the bill become law, it would have saved approximately 9.2 million gallons/year by 2025, and 16 million gallons/ear by 2035.

HB2743 and SB6390 (reclaimed water): These were companion bills dealing with how reclaimed water could be distributed. Both would have required that existing water utilities be consulted regarding the distribution of reclaimed water in their distribution areas. CELP opposed these bills because we felt that they would have had the effect of discouraging use of reclaimed water. Neither bill advanced out of the House or Senate
HB2485  (low-water use landscaping): This bill would have prohibited condominium or homeowners associations from limiting homeowners' use of drought-resistant or low-water landscaping techniques, or from sanctioning homeowners who reduced or eliminated outdoor watering during a drought. This bill failed to pass the House.
SB6203  (carbon tax): While not strictly a water bill, a carbon tax is directly relevant to Washington's water issues. Climate change is already affecting the timing and distribution of our state's water and will create real availability challenges in the future. This bill was intended to reduce Washington's contributions to carbon emissions and climate change by placing a price (indexed to rise over time) on carbon pollution. Ultimately, Senate Democrats fell a few votes short of being able to pass this legislation.   Environmental, labor, and social justice groups (the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy) launched a ballot initiative campaign shortly thereafter.

Protecting Rivers and Salmon in a Post-Hirst Future: Hard Work Is Ahead
by Dan Von Seggern

As we discussed in the last issue of Washington Water Watch, the State Legislature passed a bill (ESSB 6091) that was designed to "fix" the Hirst decision.  CELP is deeply concerned about the potential effects of this bill.

First, at least for the next few years, there will be no meaningful controls whatsoever on permit-exempt withdrawals in most of the state.  Most landowners will be able to get a building permit simply by paying a minimal fee, regardless of the effect on streamflows or other water right holders.  Once these new uses have been established, they will represent permanent withdrawals of water, regardless of whether they adversely affect the environment.  Second, and even worse, another part of the bill is clearly intended to overturn the Foster decision, which requires that water withdrawals be mitigated with water.   Foster is a very important control on the use of "out-of-kind" mitigation, which can result in dewatering streams and harm to fish.

The bill does set out processes that are intended to lead to plans (established by watershed planning groups or newly established watershed enhancement committees) for mitigation of well impacts, but its structure creates strong incentives for indefinite delays: any plan adopted would almost certainly be more restrictive than the current situation created by ESSB6091, so that there will be strong pressure to do nothing.

CELP is cautiously optimistic that a regulatory framework that protects streamflows, fish, wildlife, and other water users can be established.  However, we must be vigilant and carefully evaluate proposals for mitigation of water use, so that the goal of enhancing flows and protecting river/stream environments is actually met.

Watersheds to Watch: WRIA 33 - Lower Snake
Snake River | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
by Nick Manning

Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 33 encompasses the Lower Snake Watershed, including a large portion of the Snake River and its numerous tributary creeks and streams. Originating in the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming, the Snake River runs through southeast Washington, meeting the Columbia River before flowing west into the ocean.  Of the watershed itself, 84% is privately owned, a majority of which is cropland. As a result, most-if not all-of the available water in the Lower Snake Watershed has already been spoken for, according to the Department of Ecology (Ecology) in its  WRIA 33 report. Especially during summer months when demand is highest and flow levels are lowest, growing populations, declining groundwater levels, changing climate patterns, and existing excessive damming and pollution have reduced water availability to dangerous levels for local communities and the environment. As of this report, no instream flow rule or watershed plan exists to address this issue.

While water levels are declining, and water is not legally available, Ecology has not closed the watershed to new appropriations. However, Ecology has stated that new water appropriation is unlikely without full mitigation. Despite this, the watershed and salmon populations that rely on it are in danger. There is currently no minimum flow level established for the watershed, nor any state recovery plan. [...] Instream flow rules in the Lower Snake River Watershed could ensure sufficient water levels and habitat for salmon runs, make the stream more resilient to pollution, and help mitigate overuse from senior water rights holders.

CELP urges the Department of Ecology to follow up on its responsibility to set instream flows for WRIA 33 to ensure quality and quantity of water for critical salmon populations and local communities.

If you are interested in helping securing protections for the Lower Snake River watershed, please e-mail CELP at contact@celp.org.

Welcome Nick Manning to CELP!

A Seattle Native, Nick joined the CELP team at the beginning of February 2018. He earned his B.A. in Environmental Policy from Colby College in 2016, and has since worked in Washington, D.C. and Portland, ME on environmental initiatives from both the private and nonprofit sectors. Growing up in Seattle, Nick's favorite activities included hiking and camping in the summer around Washington's alpine lakes, and skiing in the winter. You can find him around town playing frisbee or music in city leagues or at the occasional coffee house on Capitol Hill. To contact Nick, e-mail him at nmanning@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 .