Washington Water Watch: November Addition

Photo: Kayla Jo Media

Dear friends of CELP,


As the year winds down, the state drought declaration for 27 watersheds remains in effect, expiring April 4th, 2020.  As winter approaches, snowpack levels continue to be less than average. These levels are critical to water supplies and replenishing aquifers. Our rivers and streams are already struggling to meet minimum instream flows, and climate change is further impacting our water supplies.


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 the South Puget Sound chum run, CELP in the community, #GivingTuesday, and our Winter Continuing Legal Education workshop.

 Sincerely, 

Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

trolfe@celp.org

For Full Newsletter: https://conta.cc/2XEAEer


Remembering Pat Sumption

John & Rachael Osborn:

First, let us thank Pat’s three sons – David, Cameron, and Chris – especially for helping their mother in the last part of her life’s journey.

Pat Sumption was a consummate environmental activist. She was dauntless, persistent, strategic, and unerring in her sense of the right thing to do, especially for Washington’s rivers. She worked for decades for the protection of the Green River, including standing up to Tacoma’s ever-thirsty water grab through the infamous Pipeline Five.

Rachael uncovered an essay Pat herself had written and published in the Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) newsletter in 2016. Here are Pat’s words from “Love Letter to the Green River”:


I didn’t mean to fall in love with the Green River. It just happened. It just grew like Topsy.

I discovered rivers when I went to Girl Scout camp at 12. We did a multi-day hike on the Dosewallips. We swam in the river and nearly froze our toes, and it was beautiful and I was in love with the Dosewallips and rivers everywhere. So it was inevitable when someone aimed me at a river canoe, that I would get in it and try paddling. And, I guess it was inevitable when I was told to choose my favorite Washington river at a State Rivers Conference in the 1980’s, that I would choose the Green. It is the color of my eyes, after all, and I had to choose something.

All those at the Conference who chose the Green (even if their eyes weren’t), were sent to one corner and told that our task was to form a Green River group which would then work on protecting our chosen River. There must have been other fanatics in our Group, because we did just that: we formed Friends of the Green River and started raising money and incorporating a non-profit. And the more I did for the Green, the more I fell in love with it.

The Green River has a secret that gets many people hooked on it. Part of it is hidden in a deep, quiet gorge that’s almost inaccessible except by boat. Boaters come from all over the world to boat the Green River Gorge. It’s untrammeled, pristine, gorgeously draped in damp green mosses and ferns – a fantasy, watery, world of Green.

But, the Green River has 2 dams on it. The Corps of Engineers built a dam for flood control in the middle of the 20th Century. Tacoma then built a smaller dam downstream . . . [to pipe] Green River water to municipal customers in Pierce County.

Those dams meant problems for the ecology of the Green, and for recreational boaters. They were threats to the salmon and steelhead runs of the Green River; there was no fish passage for either dam.

By the 1980s, Tacoma had plans to build a new water supply pipeline through south King County rather than directly to Pierce County and Tacoma, because they wanted to sell some of that water to the water districts and towns in south King County along the way.

Friends of the Green River (FOG) had been created to protect the Green and its watershed, including not allowing more water to be taken from the River. FOG appealed … the permits to build the new Pipeline through King County where it would cross a number of streams, wetlands, etc. …

We eventually … negotiated with Tacoma and a 1995 Agreement gave us a number of things that could help the Green River, its habitat, its salmon and perhaps even its white water boaters. …

Remember, it takes a community to care for a river and its watershed.


And this from Elaine Packard, friend and colleague in advocacy for Washington’s rivers:

“Pat was a longstanding member of the Sierra Club’s Water & Salmon Committee which she chaired for a time. For decades, she was one of its most dedicated members, serving as activist, as well as mentor and advisor. And Pat brought institutional memory along with her expertise about water. Anyone who worked to protect rivers in Washington: she knew them and she’d probably worked with them.

Pat’s training as a lawyer gave her a laser mind on issues. But it was her love of rivers that inspired her to serve in many leadership roles with Sierra Club, Friends of the Green River, CELP, Rivers Council, and other groups. She will be missed and remembered fondly for her commitment, her persistence, and her special charm. She was a respected elder in the Chapter whose memory will not be forgotten.”


In closing, rivers and future generations, depend on us to give them a voice. Pat gave voice to rivers.

On the day before Pat’s life celebration, Rachael and I sat and talked about Pat. How is it that someone with such a powerful presence can be among us on one day, and then be gone the next? Where are they? Where did they go?

Flowing through forests and human communities in western Washington is the Green River. Pat may be gone. Pat’s spirit? Pat remains with the river she so deeply loves. Let Pat’s love and work for rivers carry on through all of us.


Washington Water Watch: September Addition

Check out our newest Washington Water Watch newsletter:

Photo: John Osborn

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.  

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

For the full newsletter – click here: https://conta.cc/32CvW2n


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