Summer is coming! This month’s issue of Water Watch features information on our upcoming Celebrate Water event, an article on our letter to Governor Inslee about restoring higher flow requirements on the Spokane River, a “Love Letter to a River” by CELP member Pat Sumption, and an introduction to CELP’s newest board member, Jill F. Johnson.
Happy Earth Day from CELP! This month’s issue features an article on our What’s Upstream Campaign, updates on the Spokane River PCB cleanup and the Fox v. Skagit County decision, and info on GiveBIG and our upcoming Celebrate Water event. Plus, in honor of Earth Day, learn how you can prevent pollution of Washington’s rivers and streams in your own backyard!
This edition features water issues in the legislature, an update on Dungeness River litigation, and news about the WSU Water plan and Columbia River Treaty letter. Meet our new Development and Outreach Coordinator and learn about our upcoming events in Spokane and Idaho, our call for photos and stories and more.
All of us at the Center for Environmental Law & Policy would like to thank the Kalispel Tribe for their generous donation towards our work on the Columbia River Ethics and Treaty Project. The mission of the Ethics & Treaty Project is to modernize the Columbia River Treaty to promote the common good through stewardship and justice, while encouraging respectful dialogue and an international water ethic for the Columbia River. The Ethics & Treaty Project is a joint project of CELP and Sierra Club, working with the 15 Tribes with natural resource authorities in the Columbia River Basin and also First Nations in the Basin.
In this issue, you’ll find articles about Ecology’s Rural Water Supply Workgroup, the success of CELP’s December 3rd CLE event, and our most recent job opening. You will also be introduced to our new Board Chair and Vice Chair, Daryl Williams and John Roskelley, enjoy the poetry of Tina Wynecoop, and more.
Starting in January, all of us at CELP are excited to welcome Daryl Williams and John Roskelley as CELP’s new Board Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. Daryl has been a member of our board since 2013, and John joined the board in late 2014.
Outside of his work for CELP, Daryl is currently serving as Executive Director of the Tulalip Energy Corporation and Environmental Liaison for the Natural Resources Division. Heis a member of the Tulalip Tribe, and has been on staff with the Tribe since 1977 in many capacities. Daryl also serves as President of the Adopt A Stream Foundation and Director of Qualco Energy. He was appointed to the Puget Sound Action Team by Governor Locke, and was a member of the National Tribal Environmental Council.
John is a water advocate, legendary mountaineer, author and has a long history of public service. He served on the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the Growth Management Hearings Board, and as Spokane County Commissioner. John’s latest book is Paddling the Columbia: A guide to all 1,200 miles of our scenic and historical river. John is especially interested in removing dams, and in restoring health to the Columbia River and its tributaries.
“To understand why I am an enthusiastic supporter of CELP, one only has to look at its mission statement, which reads in part, “to protect, preserve and restore Washington’s waters through education, policy reform, agency advocacy, and public interest litigation.” Almost every day we are reminded that we can no longer expect our elected representatives to protect and preserve the state’s water; that we can no longer depend on state agencies to enforce the Clean Water Act and state laws; and we can no longer look the other way as agriculture and industry continue wasting and abusing the state’s waters.
In a perfect world, CELP would not be necessary. We could depend on those in charge to assure our most precious resource is abundant and clean. But it has become painfully clear to me that common sense and best available science is seldom used by decision makers, as special interests lobby to pollute our waterways just a little bit more or divide dry creeks and rivers into smaller portions we no longer have.
I’m not a newbie to the waterways of Washington. My dad was the outdoor editor for the Chronicle/Spokesman Review and for many of my early years I fished almost every lake and reservoir in eastern Washington, hunted pheasants and ducks along countless streams, and camped and climbed mountains near alpine lakes drinking freely from the glacial creeks. Even as a youngster, it bothered me that behind every outboard engine at the docks was an oily sheen of rainbow-colored water. How could that not affect the fish? How was I supposed to swim in that?
When I was young there seemed to be endless quantities of clean, clear water, and because I spent my outdoor time in remote areas, I didn’t realize the extent and type of pollution that was building in our waterways. That changed with my first climbing expedition to Nepal. Here was centuries of abuse. Nepal’s rivers are their sewers, graveyards, and trash removers. It wasn’t until passing the last village on my way to climb a peak high in the Himalayas that the water looked and, yes, felt clean, although it always had to be boiled or treated. I can’t stand by and let that happen here.
I started looking at our waterways differently after multiple trips to Asia. The creeks and streams I once hunted in eastern Washington over the years changed. Agricultural methods “improved”, so that land once given over to wildlife habitat, is now tilled and farmed; creek beds and wetlands that were avoided are now rechanneled, plowed and destroyed; brush, water cress, and wildlife habitat that cleaned the water flowing through channels is now sprayed with herbicides and burned, leaving a runnel of water lying in a bed of mud. There isn’t a lake or stream in the Columbia Basin, for instance, that isn’t polluted with pesticides and herbicides from decades of farming practices.
There’s no sense in fouling our own nest, but we seem bent on doing so. There are laws to protect our waterways from development practices; industry abuse; agricultural destruction; and the pollution by stock animals. But those sworn to uphold them seldom enforce them. Polluted water, over allocated water rights, refusing to enforce the laws – these actions are unacceptable. CELP follows its mission and that includes litigation. This “hammer”, which is unique to environmental non-profits, forces those who are responsible – legislators, state agencies, local governments – to reevaluate and sometimes do what is right. CELP can turn this pollution train around and that’s why I’m on the CELP board.”
Melissa Bates is co-founder of Aqua Permanenté, a citizens group that works to protect water resources in the Kittitas Valley and statewide. In 2008, Aqua Permanenté petitioned the Department of Ecology to close the Upper Kittitas Valley to all new groundwater withdrawals, including permit-exempt wells. In 2011, that closure became reality, when the state adopted a rule prohibiting new, unmitigated wells in Upper Kittitas. The rule set a new standard for “water budget neutral” appropriations, and mitigation of water use to protect water users and the environment. Melissa and her colleagues have also been active in the Yakima Integrated Water Planning process, the Department of Ecology’s Rural Water Supply process, and generally sticking up for junior water right holders who are adversely affected by diminishing water supplies. Melissa and her family have been invaluable volunteers for CELP.
When asked about her passion for water conservation, Melissa said:
“Growing up in the Great Lakes area, I definitely took water for granted. We lived on the water, had a pool and most of our activities revolved around water sports (even when frozen – we did lots of ice skating!). When I came out to central Washington State in 1991 (by way of Alaska), I was surprised that a trip to the ‘swimming hole’ could be a 20 minute drive. About that same time I read Cadillac Desert which had a tremendous impact on me. Water is a part of the Public Trust, which includes the water required to support the entire ecosystem, not just what flows past the stream gauge. I have participated in many different water workgroups, and have come to believe that our state needs to better manage its water resources. I like working with CELP because CELP’s work is very thorough – they take the time to understand and evaluate pending policy decisions or legal challenges. The problem is that the State has never really done their job of protecting the water resource and we now are painted into a corner, yet Ecology is still unable to say no to the developers. Any remaining protections are continually being eroded away – often by the very agency tasked to defend them. This puts CELP in the position of trying to protect the instream water resource while Ecology puts up some of the biggest obstacles. No one defends our water resources like CELP, so CELP has to be tough because once the water has been taken for out-of-stream use; you rarely get it back instream! At the same time, CELP works on drafting policy in order to proactively create protections.”
In addition to her conservation activities, Melissa is a medical lab tech and has a small farm outside Cle Elum, WA. Her husband is an Eventing instructor (jumping, dressage and cross-country riding). They have 2 children, a son who is a senior at UW in biochemistry and physics and a daughter in middle school. They’ve raised sheep for meat and wool but have downsized the flock and now just have sheep for wool, and the sheep are grateful.
Check out the September edition of our newsletter, Washington Water Watch. You will find an article on our recent legal action to stop pollution from the Leavenworth Hatchery, Ecology’s new Reclaimed Water Rule, an update on our H2KNOW campaign, and information about a conference we are sponsoring about modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, “One River. Ethics Matter”. You will also find information about CELP’s upcoming events.
For 36 years, federal hatchery has been illegally polluting Icicle Creek
Tuesday September 29, 2015 – Today, the Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) and Wild Fish Conservancy announced they filed legal action to compel the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to clean-up the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery now polluting Icicle Creek.
FWS discharges a wide variety of pollutants into Icicle Creek from the federal hatchery located near Leavenworth, Washington, without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. An NPDES permit is required by the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and would place limits on pollutant discharges. The Hatchery’s permit expired in 1979, and for the past thirty-six years FWS has operated the hatchery in violation of the CWA. Despite repeated requests over many years to update the Hatchery’s operations, including a 60-day notice filed in July, federal officials have continued to operate the facility without obtaining a new permit.
Pollutants released from the Hatchery to Icicle Creek 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 excess phosphorus discharged by the Hatchery has caused violations of the applicable water quality criterion for pH in lower Icicle Creek. This phosphorus loading also contributes to violations of water quality standards in the Wenatchee River.
“The Clean Water Act is the main mechanism through which pollution of our waters is prevented, and the Hatchery is obligated to apply for a permit and to operate according to its conditions,” said Dan Von Seggern, staff attorney for CELP. “Filing a lawsuit is a last resort. However, a great deal of effort by many groups and individuals to get the Hatchery to obey the law has been unsuccessful. This litigation is aimed at ensuring that the federal agency carries out its work to augment salmon runs without harming Icicle Creek.”
“By not having a current NPDES permit, the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery has been in violation of the Clean Water Act for thirty five years,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “Over the past fifteen years we have worked with local citizens and representatives of state, federal, and tribal agencies to try to get the Leavenworth Hatchery to comply with state and federal law to protect and restore native fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act and to restore the integrity of the Icicle Creek ecosystem. It is discouraging to realize that yet again the Hatchery blatantly disregards its legal obligations and the needs of the Icicle Creek ecosystem. The saddest part of this is the public is unknowingly paying for it.”
The Leavenworth National Hatchery was constructed between 1939 and 1941 near Leavenworth, Washington, and is located on the banks of Icicle Creek approximately three miles from the river’s confluence with the Wenatchee River. The federal hatchery has a long history of violations of federal environmental laws. Despite repeated attempts, including litigation, the federal facility continues to be in violation of federal laws, notably the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.
Wild Fish Conservancy and CELP are represented by Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC of Portland, OR.
- Dan Von Seggern, Center for Environmental Law & Policy, 206.829-8299
- Contact: Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy, 425-788-1167
- Brian Knutsen, Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, 503-841-6515
In this month’s newsletter, you’ll find an update on Washington’s drought, an article about the H2KNOW campaign currently going on in Spokane, a profile of Frank James, one of CELP’s board members, and more water news.
Check it out here.