Washington Water Watch 
September 2019

In This Issue
A Win for the Spokane River
CELP In Your Community
Crystal Geyser
Salmon in the Upper Columbia
Thank You to the Swinomish!
Save the Date!
Keep Our Rivers Flowing!
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Upcoming Events
CELP Presentations Across the State
See: "CELP in the Community"
Multiple Venues
Interested in learning more about Water Policy and safeguarding Water in Washington for future generations? Attend one of CELP's presentations given by Nick Manning this fall. 

Thursday, December 5th
The Mountaineers
Join us for our Winter CLE! Schedule and speakers TBA. 
Letter from the Executive Director

Spokane River - Photo by the Lands Council 

Dear friends of CELP,

Summer is winding down, and hopefully most of you got a chance to get out and enjoy the wonderful recreational opportunities on our rivers. But sadly, those opportunities were limited in some areas of the state due to low river flows caused by this year's drought. Climate Change is contributing to an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts in our state, and state policies need to do more to proactively combat this. Other threats continue to pop up like the proposed Crystal Geyser water bottling plant in Randal next to the Cowlitz River, a river that doesn't have the protection of an Instream Flow Rule. 

That's why CELP has been working to protect and restore stream flows in watersheds around the state - work that is now more critical than ever. But we can't do it alone. We rely on generous donations from our members and supporters to hold our lawmakers and agencies accountable for protecting Washington's rivers and streams. Please consider helping us continue this important work by making a donation today!

In this issue you will find information about CELP's win on the Spokane River Instream Flow Rule, CELP in the community, the Crystal Geyser water bottling plant proposal, salmon in the Upper Columbia River, a thank you to the Swinomish, and an AWRA event announcement. 
Trish Rolfe
Executive Director

A Win for The Spokane!

On June 26, 2019, the Washington State Court of Appeals Division II  ruled in favor of Spokane River advocates, finding that the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) failed to protect summertime flows needed by the river, and thousands of boaters, fishers, anglers, and businesses. The court, in rejecting Ecology's Spokane River rule, underscored that the agency arbitrarily disregarded thousands of public comments, boater surveys, an analysis comparing the aesthetics of different flows, and testimony of river-dependent businesses.

Ecology adopted the Spokane River flow regulation in 2015. Water advocacy groups Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP), American Whitewater, and Sierra Club filed an appeal, arguing that the state was required to consider all uses of the river, not just fishery uses, in adopting an instream flow regulation or rule for the river. The court agreed, holding that Ecology did not have discretion to disregard recreational and aesthetic use of the river.

"During hot summer months, Spokane River flows must be protected for community recreational and aesthetic use, as well as fish and wildlife," said John Osborn, conservation chair for the local Sierra Club's Upper Columbia River Group. "The Department of Ecology, which has a long record of issuing water rights to the point of endangering rivers and aquifers, should not be allowed to further degrade the Spokane River by leaving open the door for more water rights."
The court ruled:
  • "The [Spokane] river is a central feature of the region's identity, and Spokane residents view the river as an integral part of their community. (Opinion, p.3)
  • Ecology may not "narrowly protect only one instream value that Ecology deems 'best'", but must "meaningfully consider a range of instream values . . ." (Opinion, p. 17)
  • "Ecology's explanations for establishing instream flows based only on fish habitat studies without regard to how its proposed flow would protect other values was arbitrary and capricious. Therefore, the resulting Rule is invalid." (Opinion, p.21)
Appellants are Sierra Club, Center for Environmental Law & Policy and American Whitewater, and are represented by attorneys Dan Von Seggern (CELP) and Andrew Hawley (Western Environmental Law Center).

More background available here.

Court of Appeals' Ruling on Spokane River Flows here.

CELP in the Community!

CELP at Renton River Days
CELP's Water Policy Coordinator - Nick Manninghas been attending farmers markets in communities across the greater Seattle area - e ducating community members  about how to safeguard water across Washington.

Nick has also been working diligently on outreach on the Peninsula and on grassroots coordination. He has been presenting to several different organizations and leading entity meetings (Coastal Salmon Partnership, Dungeness River Management team, etc) to try and build a community around preserving streamflow and water resources for the upcoming lobby day and in general. 

In the fall, Nick will be giving public presentations at the Port Angeles marine life center, Dungeness Audubon center, North Olympic Resources Center, and others to garner public support and further educate these communities. Dates below:

  • Dungeness Audubon Center: September 27th. 
  • Port Angeles Marine Research Center: October 22nd. 
  • North Olympic Resources Center: TBD 
  • WWU Education Series: November 7th.
We hope to see you there! For questions or volunteer opportunities, please reach out to  Nick  Manning at   nmanning@celp.org  to learn how you can get involved with protecting our rivers and streams.

Crystal Geyser

Late this May, Crystal Geyser Roxane LLC, a California water bottling company, applied for a permit to annually withdraw 360 acre-feet of groundwater from a parcel along the Cowlitz River in the small community of Randle. The Cowlitz remains open to new appropriations of water, as a proposed instream flow rule which would have closed the basin was never finalized. Strong opposition to Crystal Geyser's proposed 100,000 square foot bottling plant from local residents and the Cowlitz Tribe was amplified when an internal company e-mail discussing a potential strategy of spurious lawsuits against local landowners was accidentally sent to a Lewis County newspaper. 

The site of the proposed bottling plant is home to at least five fish species, including Coho salmon, Cutthroat trout, and lamprey. CELP has closely followed the application and is exploring approaches  to prevent this and future attempts to take local water from the environment for out-of-basin commercial exploitation. This is why instream flows are so critically important. Read more here!

For the First Time in 80 Years, Salmon are in the Upper Columbia River

Picture by The Spokesman
On Friday, August 9th - Members of the  Colville Confederated Tribes released 30 salmon into the Columbia River upstream of the Chief Joseph Dam.

This marks the first time that salmon have been in that stretch of the river since the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams were built in the 1950s and 1930s.  It also paves the way towards a plan to reintroduce salmon  into the upper stretched of the Columbia River. 

Read more about this historical moment for the Colville Tribes by visiting the link below. 

A BIG Thank you to the Swinomish!

Earlier this month, CELP staff and board attended the annual Swinomish luncheon to accept a $10,000 grant in honor of Larry Wasserman - CELP's 2019 Water Hero. CELP would like to extend a huge thank you to the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community for supporting our work and working side by side with us over the years to secure protections for water. 

Upcoming Event: American Water Resources Association

We would like to inform you of the upcoming 2019 AWRA-WA State Conference, "Water Resources Planning and Implementation: Challenges, Complexity, and Uncertainty" which will occur on October 1, 2019 at The Mountaineers in Seattle, WA, located at 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA. You can register on the AWRA website:

The conference will highlight the role of water resource planning efforts in Washington in addressing competing needs and sources of future uncertainty such as climate change. Interdisciplinary perspectives will be presented on the challenges and success stories of past water resource planning efforts and effective plan implementation. The conference sessions will be as follows. First, Will Stelle from Washington Water Trust will kick off the conference with a keynote speech, sharing his insights into planning in Washington State. Then Session 1 will start with a historical perspective on planning in Washington, followed by presentations on lessons learned from Watershed Planning that are cross-cutting and relevant to multiple watersheds. Session 2 will focus on the Hirst decision and related planning activities and methodologies, such as Net Ecological Benefits. Session 3 will cover managing uncertainty in planning efforts, including climate change. Session 4 will cover significant planning efforts in Washington other than Watershed Planning, such as the Yakima Integrated Plan. And Session 5 will be a panel discussion with a view towards future planning and how to make it more effective.

Conference Schedule:
Keynote Address: Will Stelle, Washington Water Trust

Session 1:
Lessons Learned from Watershed Planning

Tom Ring, Yakama Nation
John Kounts, Washington PUD
Sharon Haensly, Squaxin Island Tribe
Mike Kaputa, Chelan County

Session 2:
Hirst and Beyond

Lisa Dally Wilson, Dally Environmental, and David Troutt, Nisqually Indian Tribe

Bennett Weinstein, Department of Ecology

Andy Hover, Okanogan County

Session 3:
Uncertainty in Planning

Abishek Singh, Intera
Gillaume Mauger, University of Washington
Carrie Sessions, Department of Ecology
Joe Mentor, Mentor Law Group

Session 4:
Bookends of the Planning Process

Urban Eberhardt, Kittitas Reclamation District
Abby Hook, King County

Session 5:
Panel Discussion

Tom Ring, Yakama Nation
Will Stelle, Washington Water Trust
Two additional panelists, TBD

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 .