New Participation Requirements by State’s Icicle Work Group Ends Collaboration, Prompts CELP to Resign

CELP resigned from the Washington State Department of Ecology -sponsored Icicle Work Group (IWG) on July 20th because of changes in its operating procedures that essentially eliminate the ability of CELP and other non-profits to meaningfully participate in this public process.

The new rules include changes to the decision making process  from consensus to majority rule, a prohibition on public disagreement, and a prohibition on members filing suit even if a another participant is breaking the law. These changes basically eliminate any dissenting opinions, and hamstring CELP and other participating groups from meaningfully impacting the water policy decisions made by the IWG.

Enchantment Zone Icicle ID Instream Flow Options Report (7-25-14) US Forest Service

US Forest Service Graphic

In 2012 the Department of Ecology and Chelan County asked CELP to join several state and federal agencies, two local irrigation districts, the City of Leavenworth and other non-profits in the “Icicle Work Group” (IWG), an advisory committee funded and convened by Ecology’s Office of Columbia River. Ecology stated that the purpose of the Icicle Work Group (IWG) was to solve instream flow problems in Icicle Creek while obtaining more water from the system for out-of-stream uses.  CELP has actively participated in IWG’s efforts ever since.

Last November, after repeatedly encouraging the IWG to better inform the public about one of the group’s more controversial options – building and automating irrigation dams and pipelines in the Enchantment Lakes region of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness – CELP undertook a public outreach effort.  Legislators and conservation leaders statewide took notice.  To stop this effort, the Office of Columbia River made changes to the IWG operating procedures, and sent a letter informing participants they would need to agree to the new rules, or be removed from the workgroup.

Under these conditions, CELP could not continue to participate in a process that is inconsistent with our mission to protect Washington State’s rivers and aquifers by advocating for science-based, sustainable water management through public education and outreach, advocacy and public interest litigation.  CELP will however continue to pursue other efforts to protect Icicle Creek.

For more information about the IWG’s Alpine Lakes proposals, click here.