More Controversy Stirs: Crystal Geyser Bottling Plant Proposal

Crystal Geyser submitted a proposal for a water bottling plant in Randle, Washington that is planning to take 325,000 gallons a day out of the Cowlitz river watershed if its permit is approved by Ecology. This has huge implications for water quality, quantity, critical fish habitat, and land use.

Take a listen to this short segment on the most recent slip-up in the Crystal Geyser bottling plant proposal. Thanks, KUOW-FM for the informative look into what has been going on, as well as the concerns of Randle citizens and others around the state.


July Drought Update

Summer officially began a few weeks ago and Washingtonians are now out hiking, camping and enjoying all the outdoors activities our state has to offer. But this warm, dry weather comes with frightening prospects for Washington’s rivers and streams. As you may have heard, Governor Inslee declared an emergency drought back in early April and since then he has expanded it to over half of the state. Snowpack conditions are less than 50% of the average for this time of year, and 83% of our rivers and streams are flowing well below normal with many experiencing record lows.  

The Naches River flows low as it feeds into the Yakima – Washington State Department of Ecology.

This is not good news for Washington’s rivers and the fish that depend on them. Statewide, more than two dozen salmon populations are listed as endangered, and this year’s drought could cause these salmon populations to dwindle even more, hampering recovery efforts for the endangered Resident Orcas as well. Low flows are also impacting water quality in many of our rivers and streams, and causing rafting and kayaking business to cancel summer trips. In many areas of the state water users have already been told to cut back their water use until stream flows improve. As bad as this all is it’s likely to get much worse, Climate Change and our states population growth continue to strain Washington’s already over-allocated water resources.  

Even in light of all this, there is still immense pressure to give away our water, like a proposed Crystal Geyser water bottling plant in Randle, Washington that is planning to take 325,000 gallons a day out of the Cowlitz river watershed if its permit is approved by Ecology. That’s where CELP comes in. As Washington’s only water defender, CELP has worked passionately since 1993 to protect and restore clean, flowing waters in Washington, and we are now working around the state to stop this wholesale giveaway of our water resources, and restore flows in the many rivers and streams across the state. But we can’t do it alone.  Your support now means more than ever. Please consider making a donation today.  You can donate online at our secure website, or send us a check in the mail. CELP’s work to protect Washington’s water resources depends on it.    

Take a look at current streamflow conditions here: https://www.usgs.gov/centers/water-dashboard/surface?state=wa


Court: State failed to protect Spokane River’s summertime flows

For immediate release

June 27, 2019

Appeals court sides with Spokane River advocates:  State failed to protect Spokane River summertime flows

Contacts:

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)

“The Court recognized that rivers have many valuable uses, and that determining the best flow requires balancing among those uses. If fish need a certain flow, that wins out. But here more water would be better for fish as well as recreational uses.  Ecology ignored recreational and aesthetic uses of the river at their peril,” said Andrew Hawley of the Western Environmental Law Center, attorney for the appellants.

“Through the process of setting a minimum instream flow, Ecology chose to ignore the needs of recreational users of the Spokane River,” said Thomas O’Keefe of American Whitewater. “Today the court agreed that a minimum flow of 850 cfs would not be adequate to support rafting, kayaking, and other recreational uses of the river. Ecology must seek to protect multiple instream values and this ruling makes clear that the agency has a responsibility to do that.”

“Today’s decision means Ecology must consider all uses of the river (and other rivers and streams in Washington) and provide meaningful protection of instream values,” said Dan Von Seggern, attorney with the Center for Environmental Law & Policy. “The Spokane River supports fish populations, rafting and kayaking, summer recreation and riverside habitat. Climate change and increased demand for water will put more and more pressure on these uses of the Spokane in the future. An instream flow rule will protect the river from these threats.  Unfortunately, by ignoring thousands of public comments, considering only fish habitat and protecting only a near-drought level summer streamflow, Ecology failed to consider recreation, navigation and the river ecosystem in general.  We hope that Ecology will now set a summer flow level that considers all of these uses, and protects more of the water that now flows in the River.”

“We hope this decision marks a turning point in how the Department of Ecology approaches its task of protecting the people, fish, and wildlife that depend on healthy rivers,” said Andrew Hawley, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Going forward, we expect to see Ecology make decisions that account for all the beneficial uses our shared rivers have to offer.”

The Department of Ecology could appeal this decision to the Washington Supreme Court, or accept the decision and go back to work on the Spokane River rule, fully involving the community in adoption of a new rule.

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.

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Washington Water Watch: May 2019

Dear friends of CELP,

As you may have heard, Governor Inslee declared an emergency drought declaration back in early April. Since then, he has expanded that declaration to nearly half of the state. Poor water supply conditions and warmer and drier weather predictions through the summer have us extremely worried. 

Snow pack conditions are less than 50% of the average for this time of year, and the Washington State Department of Ecology is expecting a warmer and drier summer than in year than years prior. All this makes CELP’s work more critical than ever, but our work would not be possible without supporters like you. We rely on 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 will find information about this year’s Summer CLE, Celebrate Water, CELP’s involvement in your community, and a legislative wrap up highlighting some wins for water laws in the most recent legislative session.  

Sincerely, 
Trish Rolfe
Executive Director
trolfe@celp.org

View the full report here: https://conta.cc/2EH1UAF


CELP Presents: Water Stories

Photo by Colin Wiseman

Leading up to our biggest event of the year – Celebrate Water – we will be highlighting Washington residents from across the state and their intrinsic connections to Washington’s diverse waters. These heartfelt, personal celebrations of water will together, highlight the vital importance of healthy amounts of clean, flowing water in our communities.

Our first “Water Story” will be published on our social media profiles & website on June 10th. View the stories HERE!

Celebrate Water is June 20th! For more info & tickets – visit: https://celebratewater2019.bpt.me


Celebrate Water 2019!

First and foremost, all of us at CELP would like to thank those who participated in this year’s GiveBIG. We raised over $3,300 for Washinton’s waters and we couldn’t have done it without you. With that being said, it’s time to switch gears! Celebrate Water is just around the corner and we have a big evening in store.

Please join us for our annual fundraising event, Celebrate Water, on Thursday, June 20th from 5:30pm-7:30pm! Help us commemorate another successful year of CELP’s work advocating for Washington’s rivers and streams. This year, we will be presenting Larry Wasserman with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award for his activism which ultimately secured improved protections and management of our state’s water resources.

Before the reception, CELP will be hosting a pre-reception CLE from 4:00-5:00pm, featuring guest speaker Amanda Cronin of AMP Insights. The topic of the talk will be: “Incentives for voluntary groundwater mitigation in Arizona – What’s in it for water users?”

We will also be hosting a silent auction featuring great items and gift certificates from Patagonia, Fishpond, Seattle Mariners, & more!

 

To get your tickets, visit: https://celebratewater2019.bpt.me

 

 


Remembering Jess Roskelley

 

Our deepest condolences go out to board member John Roskelley and his family after the tragic passing of their son Jess at just 36 years old. With his unexpected passing, Jess leaves behind a wonderful wife Alli, two loving parents -John and Joyce, a sister Jordan, and 2 dogs. They are all incredible individuals who deserve the very best care, love, and support in order to get through this devastating time.

To anyone who knew him, Jess was an incredible husband, son, and alpinist.  For more information on the Roskelley family and Jess’ legacy, click here: https://bit.ly/2XIG9rA

 


Washington Water Watch: April 2019 Edition

Dear friends of CELP,  It’s been a while  since our last Washington Water Watch and CELP has been busy working to protect and restore Washington’s waters. This year is shaping up to be a critical year for water in Washington, as the Department of Ecology just declared a drought in  three  watersheds: The Upper Yakima, Okanogan, and Methow. This could be bad news for fish and our population of Resident Orca’s.

 

March was unprecedentedly dry, and it is likely to only get worse from here. The coming months are forecast to be warmer and drier than normal, putting more and more areas around the state at risk. The warmer the summers get with Climate Change; the more frequently droughts are likely to occur. The only way we can proactively combat this is to start planning now and encourage the state to prioritize sound sustainable water policy. All this makes CELP’s work more critical than ever, but 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 will find information about this year’s Celebrate Waters and GiveBIG campaign, CELP’s newest staff members, an upcoming Ethics Conference, a recap of CELP’s first ever Lobby Day as well as Winter Waters, a legislative wrap up and more.

 

Sincerely,
 Trish
Trish Rolfe
Executive Director
trolfe@celp.org

 

P.S. April 22nd is Earth Day and CELP will be working to protect Washington’s rivers and streams! You can help support that work by Making a donation today!

 

Click HERE to read the full report. 


GiveBIG 2019

Give Big takes place on May 8, 2019

 

Big news! CELP is participating in Give Big once again. The one-day online giving campaign will support your local non-profits in their efforts to make Washington an even better place to live. During the 24 hour giving window on Wednesday May 8th, we encourage you to not only help protect Washington’s waters by giving to CELP, but to explore the hundreds of other non-profit organizations that are working towards shaping the future of our state.

 

This year is shaping up to be a critical year for water in Washington, as the Department of Ecology just declared a drought in three watersheds: The Upper Yakima, Okanogan, and Methow. This could be bad news for fish and our population of Resident Orca’s.

 

March was unprecedentedly dry, and it is likely to only get worse from here. The coming months are forecast to be warmer and drier than normal, putting more and more areas around the state at risk. The warmer the summers get with Climate Change; the more frequently droughts are likely to occur. The only way we can proactively combat this is to start planning now and encourage the state to prioritize sound sustainable water policy. All this makes CELP’s work more critical than ever, but 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.

 

To participate in this years GiveBIG click here.

 

Simple.  Effective. Giving.


Protecting Spokane River summertime flows returns to court

The next step in the process for protecting the River and Spokane community

News advisory:  Feb. 27, 2019

Contacts:

Issue:

When water is flowing in the Spokane River during hot summer months, should water be protected for community recreational and aesthetic use, river fish, and wildlife?   – or should the Department of Ecology allow it to be taken from the river by granting of more water rights?

Where:

Washington State Court of Appeals Division II

950 Broadway #300, Tacoma

When: 

9:00am, Thursday, February 28

Background:

Beloved and imperiled, the Spokane River flows through the second largest city in Washington state, cascading over spectacular waterfalls and cutting a deep gorge. In most summers, enough water flows in the river to support fishing, river rafting, and other outdoor recreation. River advocates are asking the court to hold the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to its duty to protect fish and wildlife, scenic, aesthetic and recreational values, and navigation, when establishing the minimum summer flows allowable for the Spokane River.

Overwhelming public support for the River:  ignored

Nearly 2,000 comments, including boater surveys and aesthetic inventories, were submitted to Ecology during the public comment period on the draft rule. In setting instream flows, Ecology’s decision failed to account for boaters who use the Spokane River, fishermen who pursue the river’s wild redband trout, and businesses that depend on Spokane River recreation. Ecology also failed to conduct a basic assessment of the scenic values of the Spokane River as it flows through the gorge and Riverside State Park – important to users of the Centennial Trail and others.

Overall, Ecology ignored all public comments in support of protecting the Spokane River and adopted unchanged its flow rule of 850 cubic feet per second (CFS) – near-drought level river flows that will jeopardize the Spokane River and its public uses.

Need to protect recreational use of the Spokane River

River advocates retained Dr. Doug Whittaker and Dr. Bo Shelby, experts in recreation and aesthetic flows from Confluence Research and Consulting, to evaluate appropriate flows. Dr. Shelby and Dr. Whittaker participated in establishing aesthetic flows for Spokane Falls, and are the foremost national experts on flows. They concluded that the Department of Ecology’s adopted flows are inadequate to support most types of recreational boating on the river. Higher flows in the Spokane River, when available, should be protected.

Fish need water

Spokane River fisheries need cold, abundant water. The Department of Ecology erred in reaching their “data-free” conclusion that 850 CFS is best for fish to justify its decision not to protect higher Spokane River flows. In response, petitioners submitted a report prepared by Prof. Allan Scholz, retired Eastern Washington University fisheries biologist. (Prof. Scholz authored a multivolume treatise on eastern Washington fisheries, and is one of the foremost experts on Spokane River redband trout.)

Prof. Scholz determined that the state’s flow rule – setting the Spokane River flow rate below the Monroe Street Dam in the summer at 850 CFS – is inadequate to protect and restore a healthy redband trout population, and that the scientific study prepared in support of the rate was flawed. The Department of Ecology could have accommodated the needs of river recreationists and fish without sacrificing fish.

Protecting aesthetics in the city’s heart

“Our city owes its origins, its beauty, and a great deal of its past and present life to the Spokane River.  It would be a betrayal of the river and our identity if we did not maintain healthy and aesthetic river flows.”

– Tom Soeldner, co-chair of Sierra Club’s Upper Columbia River Group based in Spokane.

Flows not protected in the flow rule are flows lost to the river

The Department of Ecology has a duty under state law and the public trust doctrine to adopt flows that are fully protective of all public instream values, including fish and wildlife, recreation, navigation, water quality, and scenic beauty. Again, flows that are not protected are at risk to be diverted from the Spokane River for out-of-stream water uses, including Idaho pumpers, the city of Spokane, and the office of the Columbia River’s Spokane-Rathdrum ASR project.

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).

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