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Icicle Creek, Leavenworth Federal Fish Hatchery

News Release

For immediate release, May 4, 2017

Contacts –

  • Trish Rolfe, Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP),  206.829-8299
  • Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy,  425-788-1167
  • Brian Knutsen, Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC,  503-841-651

Court: Leavenworth Federal Fish Hatchery violating Clean Water laws

Federal agencies required to upgrade federal fish hatchery to protect Icicle Creek, Wenatchee River – after 38 years of delay

On May 3, the U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. issued an injunction against the federal fish hatchery at Leavenworth, WA, after ruling in January that the hatchery was unlawfully discharging pollutants to Icicle Creek and the Wenatchee River. The latest court order provides that the injunctive requirements will terminate if and when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues a pollution discharge permit to the hatchery. The federal facility, funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has been unlawfully discharging without the required permit since 1979.

“This is an important victory for Icicle Creek,” said Dan Von Seggern, staff attorney for the Center for Environmental Law & Policy. “The Leavenworth Hatchery is dilapidated and old, with decades of deferred maintenance that needs serious upgrades. This is unacceptable under the Clean Water Act and harms the public’s interest in Icicle Creek. The court’s Order will result in state-of-the-art upgrades at the hatchery resulting in decreased water use and improved treatment. The result will be cleaner water and higher flows in the stream.”

Since 1979, the Hatchery has been operating without a valid pollution permit. Judge Mendoza’s January ruled confirmed the violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The May 3 injunction requires the hatchery to reduce the amount of phosphorus it discharges by September 1, 2019, to the amount necessary for Icicle Creek to meet water quality standards designed to support salmon and other fish. The Court’s injunction leaves open the opportunity for the Hatchery to obtain a new discharge permit, called an “NPDES” permit, from EPA, in which case that permit would set the schedule for the Hatchery to reduce its phosphorus discharges. Either way, the Hatchery will be forced to undertake long-delayed upgrades, including wastewater treatment technology to protect Icicle Creek.

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 Icicle Creek and the Wenatchee River failing to meet water quality standards for dissolved oxygen and pH.

“This court decision will require the federal agency to do what it should have done long ago: invest in hatchery upgrades,” 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 bring the Leavenworth Hatchery into compliance with state and federal laws to protect and restore native fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act, and to restore the integrity of the Icicle Creek ecosystem. Now the federal agency is under court order to do so.”

The Leavenworth Hatchery is part of a controversial process convened by the Washington Department of Ecology and known as the Icicle Work Group. Hatchery improvements are on the list of IWG goals, but are proposed only in exchange for diverting water from the Alpine Lakes Wilderness for municipal supply for the City of Leavenworth.

“The Court injunction holds the promise of a new chapter at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery – in which federal officials are committed to clean water, instream flows, and producing hatchery fish,” said attorney Brian Knutsen, of Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC. “No longer can decades of delay in hatchery upgrades be used as a bargaining chip to raise dams and drain more water from the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.”

The Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery was constructed between 1939 and 1941 near Leavenworth, Washington, as partial mitigation for massive salmon losses that resulted from building Grand Coulee Dam.

CELP is represented by Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC of Portland, OR and Seattle, WA.

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May 13 in Revelstoke: 4th international “One River – Ethics Matter” conference

Ethics & Treaty Project

News Advisory – issued May 3

Revelstoke B.C. to host “One River – Ethics Matter” conference on dams, reservoirs, Treaty, past and future of the Columbia River

Righting historic wrongs, advancing river stewardship during climate change is focus

Saturday, May 13

Contacts:

Conference:

  • When: May 13, 8am-4:30pm
  • Where: Community Centre, Revelstoke, British Columbia  (600 Campbell Ave)
  • Cost: Free and open to the public
  • To RSVP: Laura Stovel lstovel0@gmail.com 250.814-8971

Additional Links

Background to Revelstoke, B.C.: One River – Ethics Matter

Religious and First Nation leaders from the Upper Columbia River will lead a one-day conference on ethics, and the past and future of the Columbia River. The conference series is a multi-year undertaking based on the Columbia River Pastoral Letter issued in 2001 by the Roman Catholic Bishops of the international watershed, and tools used by hospital ethics consultation services.

The one-day river ethics conference brings together faith, indigenous and education leaders. Faith leadership include Anglican Archbishop John Privett, Roman Catholic Bishop John Corriveau, and Rev. Greg Powell of the Kootenay Presbytery. First Nation and tribal leadership include Chief Wayne Christian (Secwepemc), Sandra Luke and Marty Williams (Ktunaxa), Pauline Terbasket (Okanagan Nation Alliance), and D.R. Michel (Upper Columbia United Tribes) and Stevey Seymour (Sinixt/Arrow Lakes Band). Scholars and educators include Jeannette Armstrong (En’owkin Centre, Syilx scholar), Angus Graeme (President, Selkirk College), and Ariel McDowell (Principal of Aboriginal Education, School District 19).  Click to view the full agenda and list of speakers.

This is the fourth in a conference series entitled “One River – Ethics Matter” that examines the moral dimensions of the dam-building era with a focus on First Nations (Canada) and Indian tribes (U.S.), and the river and life that depends on the river. The Columbia River Pastoral Letter, issued by Northwest Catholic bishops in 2001, provides a foundation and framework for the conference series. This series is modeled on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation public dialogue in the wake of apartheid. This Revelstoke conference follows three in Spokane (2014), Portland (2015), and Boise (2016).   The fifth conference will be held in western Montana in 2017. (for more, see Ethics and Treaty Project).

Earlier conferences explored the profound effects of dams from Grand Coulee upstream on tribes and First Nations; how protecting flood plain settlement and development in the Portland area has come at the cost of permanently flooding river valleys and native homelands upstream; and re-licensing of Idaho Power Company’s Hells Canyon Complex of dams to provide passage for salmon now blocked from returning to the upper Snake River.

Conference hosts:

North Columbia Environmental Society, Mir Centre for Peace, Selkirk College, Okanagan College Faculty Association

Conference sponsors:

Joan Craig, MD * Roman Catholic Diocese of Nelson * Archbishop John Privett, Anglican Diocese of Kootenay * Ktunaxa Nation Council * Upper Columbia United Tribes * Laurie Arnold PhD * North Columbia Environmental Society * Sierra Club BC * Yellowstone to Yukon * Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southwestern Washington Synod * Citizens for a Clean Columbia * Columbia Institute for Water Policy * Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Washington State Chapter * Sierra Club, Washington State Chapter * Tom Soeldner & Linda Finney * Center for Environmental Law & Policy * Rachael & John Osborn

 

 

 

 


Washington Water Watch: March 2017 Edition

The March issue of Washington Water Watch features an interview with CELP’s newest board member Patrick Williams, our latest Voices for Water interview with Chairman Chief James Allan of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, CELP’s 2016 Annual Report, and a call to action to speak up for the Similkameen River in Okanogan County.

Read the March issue of Water Watch here.


Winter Waters 2017: Honoring the Coeur d’Alene Tribe

Protecting Lake Coeur d’Alene – Water is Life

Winter Waters Celebration, March 10 – Honoring the Coeur d’Alene Tribe

When:  March 10 (Friday) 6:30 p.m. – 9:30

Where:  Spokane – historic Patsy Clark Mansion, 2208 W. 2nd Ave

What:  Honoring our heroes – also music, desserts and other small foods, wines

Tickets: $35 per person (purchase on-line or at the door)

To help sponsor the event or for more information, contact: John Osborn MD john@waterplanet.ws 509.939-1290

Links:

Sponsors: Honoring the Coeur d’Alene Tribe

Upper Columbia United Tribes  *  Bishop William Sklystad  *  Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America  *  Eymann Allison Hunter Jones P.S.  *  Linda Finney & W. Thomas Soeldner  *  John & Joyce Roskelley  *  EnviroScience  *  Kathy Dixon  *  Columbia Institute for Water Policy  *  Rachael & John Osborn

________________________

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.

Homeland and natural resource overview

  • Historically 4 million acres: located in what is now the Idaho Panhandle from Montana to Washington, Lake Pend Oreille to the Clearwater breaks.
  • Lands and waters were pristine until the advent of white settlement in the mid-1800s.
  • Since then ecological conditions changed drastically: logging practices have eliminated old growth forests, clear-cut hillsides, changed species diversity, created a highly concentrated network of roads, and displaced wildlife species; agriculture has greatly increased agricultural runoff of pesticides, herbicides and nutrients; mining has poured hundreds of millions of tons of tailings, liquid chemicals and airborne contaminants into the Basin.

All of these practices derived wealth for the few, jobs for some, and left a legacy of negative natural resource impacts for all.

As a result of such impacts, the Tribe decided to take action and championed some major efforts to address the many problems facing their natural resource base (the center of their culture).

Efforts Undertaken:

  • EPA-related work: In the mid to late 1980’s, EPA began Superfund work in the Silver Valley. The Tribe immediately became involved in the cleanup –   at first informally but later through cooperative agreements with EPA. Local, regional and State politics hoped the cleanup would be contained to a $200 million cleanup within a small portion of the Basin (the 21-square-mile “box”).  Through the Tribe’s oversight and incessant urging of the EPA process, the original cleanup plan has been greatly increased and has led to three Records of Decisions (ROD’s 1, 2, and 3). To date EPA has spent over $600 million and still has yet to determine agency clean up actions for the lower 20 miles of the Coeur d’Alene River and associated lakes and wetlands, or what to do with Coeur d’Alene Lake.  The Tribe believes that several billion dollars of EPA cleanup is yet to come.
  • NRDA lawsuit and the Lake Case: In 1991, the Tribe filed two major lawsuits: Tribe v. Idaho (the Lake Case) and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) lawsuit (Tribe v. Gulf Resources et al.)  These lawsuits set the stage for what became many years of protracted litigation.  The NRD lawsuit sought $3 billion dollars for the injury to natural resources brought upon by the release of hazardous substances.  The Lake ownership case sought to reaffirm the Tribes ownership of the Lake so the Tribe could then proceed to address the myriad of environmental problems left unchecked by the State of Idaho.  Ultimately the Tribe prevailed in both lawsuits. The Tribe has been and continues to be on the Trustee Council responsible for the development and implementation of Restoration Plan to spend the $140 million brought about through the lawsuits.
  • Lake Management Plan Development and Implementation: The Lake is the center of the Tribe’s creation story. Their name translates to, “Those that are found here.” Although the Tribe would have wanted EPA to undertake the protection of the Lake, politics has not yet allowed this. So rather than have a Superfund cleanup for the Lake, the Tribe was left with little option but to agree to coordinate with the State of Idaho to develop and implement a Lake Management Plan (LMP) that would, in essence, be the “non-CERCLA”  approach to manage lake-bed metals contamination. After seven years of lackluster implementation (due to lack of funding and no political will to enact regulations) Tribal water quality data are indicating declining water quality.  This indicates the LMP is proving to be ineffective.  The Tribe has asked EPA to once again revisit their “deferred” decision of what they will do to protect the environment from future heavy-metals contamination.
  • Water Rights Litigation: 10 years ago the Tribe was forced by the State of Idaho to be a part of the north Idaho water rights adjudication process. This has been a battle to develop Tribal water claims.  The Tribe now faces a trial to prove entitlement to federally reserved water rights.
  • Avista Mitigation: After the most recent FERC relicensing process that ended in 2011, the Tribe received $100 million to conduct natural resource restoration efforts to mitigate for losses to Tribal resources as a result of Avista Corporation project operations. Tribal investments include; aquatic weed (milfoil) management, wetlands enhancement, cultural resources protection, and water quality monitoring.
  • Capacity Building: All during the last 25 years the Tribe continued to build internal technical capacity to tackle the complex and daunting environmental challenges in the Basin.  The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has a Natural Resources Department and a Lake Management Department numbering about 75 people.  Programs and major focus include but are not limited to:
    • Fisheries (stream restoration, native species protection, scientific data collection)
    • Wildlife (wildlife monitoring, habitat enhancement, big game management)
    • Air Quality
    • Water Resources (water quality standards development and enforcement, invasive species management and predictive lake modelling)
    • Hazardous Waste Management (restoration of injured resources, LMP implementation)
    • Shoreline Protection (shoreline debris management)
    • Forestry and Fire Management (forest health, fire prevention and suppression)
    • Pesticides Enforcement (education and enforcement)
    • Lands and Realty
    • Environmental Planning (coordination of environmental work on and off the Coeur d’Alene Reservation)
    • Recreation Management (including operation and management for the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene and Camp Larsen).

In closing, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has taken on the leadership role as steward of their homeland’s natural elements.  In order to protect and restore the waters and lands, the Tribe has engage in a spectrum of efforts from litigation to cooperative agreements.   The Tribe’s unwavering dedication to it stewardship responsibilities stems from the creators’ gift of their Land and surrounding homeland.


Washington Supreme Court Decision Protects Instream Flows, May Slow Rural Development

In an important new groundwater use decision, the Washington Supreme Court held that a county must ensure water is legally available before permitting development. This means that County land use planning must take water availability into account, and the County may not simply rely on Ecology’s instream flow rules to approve development.

Whatcom County v. Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (“Hirst”) involved a challenge to Whatcom County’s Comprehensive Plan ordinance. Under the Growth Management Act, counties develop Comprehensive Plans that designate certain areas for particular types of uses. A County’s  GMA plan must “protect the environment and enhance the state’s high quality of life, including air and water quality, and the availability of water.” Among other types of use, the GMA requires that counties set aside land for “rural” development. This rural element must include measures regulating development to protect water resources.

Like other parts of Washington, Whatcom County faces increasing pressure on its water supplies, and most of the available water has already been spoken for. Ecology’s Nooksack River instream flow rule establishes instream flows for the Nooksack River and other streams in the basin. The Nooksack Rule closes most of the county to further appropriations of water, but says nothing about permit-exempt wells. The County’s rural land planning ordinance merely incorporated Ecology’s Rule – like the Rule, it did not address permit-exempt wells.

Hirst challenged the County’s rural land planning ordinance, on the grounds that it failed to protect rural water resources because it did not address rural permit-exempt well use. The Board agreed, finding that the Comprehensive Plan’s Rural Element did not adequately protect water resources. The Court of Appeals reversed the Board, holding that because the County’s planning ordinances were consistent with Ecology’s Rule, the County need not further regulate groundwater use. This ruling left Whatcom County’s groundwater essentially unprotected, as there were no limitations on the use of permit-exempt wells in much of the county. Hirst then petitioned for review by the Washington Supreme Court (CELP submitted an amicus curiae brief supporting Hirst et al.).

The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that a county must protect groundwater supplies when developing its Comprehensive Plan, and simply deferring to Ecology’s Rule is not adequate. Justice Wiggins’ decision explains that the GMA places a duty on a County to make determinations of water availability. Because Whatcom County’s ordinance did not require a determination of water availability, it did not comply with the GMA. The decision reaffirms and extends the earlier Kittitas County v. Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board case, in which the Supreme Court held that counties were responsible for land use decisions that affect groundwater resources.

Hirst is the latest in a series of Supreme Court decisions that extend protection for groundwater and instream flows against over-appropriation. It will have far-reaching effects on protection of groundwater and the associated streamflows and in reducing sprawl caused by unrestricted rural development.

Whatcom County v. Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, No. 91475-3 (October 6, 2016).

Read the full decision here.


Water “CPR” needed for extremely low Spokane River

H2KNOWriverlow-1

News Release  – August 30, 2016

Public Water Alert

Inland Northwest residents encouraged to use Water CPR:

Conserve – Protect – Reuse

Despite cooler weather in forecast – Spokane River water levels are in the red

Contacts:

Spokane River 8-30-2016 741 cfs

Spokane River today, August 30, 10:30 a.m. – flows at 741 cubic feet per second. People’s Park – confluence of Hangman Creek and Spokane River.

Spokane – Today river advocates again called on their neighbors and Spokane City water managers to turn down the spigots, and turn off sprinklers. Spokane River flows dropped below 850 cubic feet per second (cfs) – the state-mandated minimum flow – more than a week ago, and have been running at or below 750 cfs most of this week.    

“Think about our river and aquifer as one,” said John Roskelley, former Spokane County Commissioner with the statewide Center for Environmental Law & Policy.   “The water we use from the aquifer is water lost to the river for fish and wildlife habitat. Remember water CPR: conserve, protect, reuse. Water is our most important resource – let’s not waste it.”

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Spokane River 8-30-2016 741cfs

Watering alleys in the City of Spokane, wasting water. August 30, 2018. Meanwhile, the river is gasping for water.

People can take five actions that will conserve water and help the Spokane River:

  1. Reduce outdoor watering (especially stop over-watering law grass)
  2. Replace lawn with low-water plants
  3. Fix broken or clogged pipes and sprinkler heads
  4. Fix leaks in all plumbing fixtures
  5. Install water-efficient devices (such as low flow toilets and shower heads)

“Our water bills don’t begin to reflect the true cost of water,” said Tom Soeldner, retired Lutheran Pastor with the local Upper Columbia River Group, Sierra Club. “The real water bill for this region is being paid for by the Spokane River – the fish, wildlife, and people whose jobs depend on the river. The immediate action we can take to right this wrong is to stop using water unless it’s essential.”

The Inland Northwest is notable for its hot, dry summers. Water used by 600,000 people in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene region comes from the Spokane-Rathdrum Aquifer, which also supplies the Spokane River. Large municipal wells that are close to the River, such as the City of Spokane’s Well Electric facility, can have an immediate depleting impact on river flows.

“These low river flows are hard on fish,” said Sam Mace, who frequently fishes the river. “When the Spokane River flows are in the red, people who care about the river should be seeing red. We can do better, all of us, in using water wisely to protect the Spokane River.”

Spokane River flows are monitored at the USGS Monroe Street Gage, a measuring device located just downstream of the Monroe Street bridge. Interested parties can watch flow trends on the web or in the local newspaper.

The H2KNOW campaign is a community-based water conservation project to help the region recognize the intimate relationship between the Aquifer and Spokane River, and the need to conserve water to help protect the Spokane River.

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March Edition of Washington Water Watch!

Check out the latest issue of Washington Water Watch!

In this issue, you’ll find an article on the takeaways for water resource issues from the legislative session, our petition for higher water flows on the Spokane River, an article by CELP Staff Attorney Dan Von Seggern on protecting instream resources in Washington, and more.

 

 


January/February Edition of Washington Water Watch is Out!

Check out the latest issue of Washington Water Watch!

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.