Profile of Melissa Bates – CELP Supporter and Volunteer

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 gaugeI 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.

Henry, one of Melissa's rams - Photo by Melissa Bates

Alpine Aries Sir Henry, one of Melissa’s rams – Photo by Melissa Bates

September Edition of Washington Water Watch Is Out!

Dry Orchards in Benton County - Photo from WA Dept of Ecology

Dry Orchards in Benton County – Photo from WA Dept of Ecology

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.

Click here to read more.

CELP Files Legal Action to Stop Pollution from Leavenworth Hatchery

For 36 years, federal hatchery has been illegally polluting Icicle Creek

Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery - photo by John OsbornTuesday 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.

Icicle Creek - photo by John Osborn

Icicle Creek – photo by John Osborn

“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.

Link –

Contacts –

  • 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

August Edition of Washington Water Watch is Out!

Teanaway River, tributary of the Yakima River, running very low - Photo from WA Dept of Ecology

Teanaway River, tributary of the Yakima River, running very low – Photo from WA Dept of Ecology

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.

Meet Frank James MD – CELP Board Member

Frank James MD (and friend)

Frank James MD (and friend)

Frank is the Health Officer for San Juan County and Health Officer for the Nooksack Indian Nation, and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health. Frank also serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Village Studies and Responsible Development and on the organizing committee for Whatcom Docs, a group of physicians bringing scientific evaluation to the health impacts of the proposed coal port and coal trains in Bellingham. Frank is the former Executive Director of Honor Works, and a co-founder of the CEDAR Project on the Lummi Nation, a community organization that builds leadership in young people.

Frank has been on the Board of Directors for CELP since 2014. We asked Frank some questions about how he became passionate about protecting Washington’s waters, and how he became involved with CELP. Here are a few of his answers:

What’s your first memory of being aware of water conservation, or conservation in general?

My great grandmother said fairly often,  “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

How did you first become aware of/involved with CELP?

I have worked for and with NW Tribes for over 25 years, CELP is well known to the Tribes. John Osborn [current CELP Board Chair] and I went to medical school together even longer ago.

What do you find most challenging about protecting water in Washington?

Water quality is something most people can relate to but water quantity is something that most people have thought we would never have a problem with in Washington State. Getting people to take the issue seriously has been a real challenge.

What do you wish other people knew about CELP or water conservation generally?

The historic role of CELP in many of the landmark water decisions is well known in some circles but the general public is unaware of the role CELP has played in critical water litigation over several decades.

If you could change one thing about CELP, what would it be?

It’s profile in the public eye.

What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about water conservation?

Knowing that my personal effort to conserve is wonderful and it feels good but real impacts at the societal level require larger actions to change policy.

Why are you supporting CELP as opposed to other groups working on water conservation?

Many people work on water quality issues but very, very few on water quantity.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming involved with CELP?

It is very exciting to be part of an organization that is taking on one of the most important areas for the future of our community. CELP has a strong reputation for being effective and in taking on the most important issues facing our region in the area of water policy.

What’s it like to be a board member for CELP?

The staff and other board members are all very busy people but take the time to listen to the public and to take meaningful action in the best interests of the larger community. It is easy to be proud of the historic tradition of effective action over many years. The challenge is to keep that tradition up at the level it has been due to the truly outstanding efforts of prior board members.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CELP?

I do research, teach and practice medicine. I do research with the Nooksack Indian Tribe on the role of culture in keeping tribal members healthy, I am on the faculty of both University of Washington School of Public Health and Yang Ming University Taipei, Taiwan in Global Health and I practice at Travel Medicine Northwest helping to prepare people to travel abroad safely and caring for returning travelers that have become ill abroad.

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.

Meet John Roskelley – CELP Board Member

Water advocate, legendary mountaineer, and author, John Roskelley has a long history of public service and joined the CELP board in the fall of 2014.  He has also served on the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the Growth Management Hearings Board, and as a 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. In the photo to the left, he is fishing with son Jess.

John Roskelley near Mica Dam on Kinbasket Lake - Joyce Roskelley

John Roskelley near Mica Dam on Kinbasket Lake – Photo by Joyce Roskelley

How did you first become aware of/involved with CELP?

I first became aware of CELP after following the group’s legal actions to protect in-stream flows on the Spokane River and during the relicensing of the Post Falls Dam. I also attended a Winter Waters event.

What’s your first memory of being aware of water conservation, or conservation in general?

As a member of the Spokane Mountaineers and mountain climber for the past 50 years, it feels as though I have always been involved in some conservation activity or another. My first involvement in conservation work was in 1966 when I wrote my first letter asking Congress to create the North Cascades National Park. As I climbed throughout the world, I was always conscious of “leave no trace” and protecting the natural resources of the countries I visited. In 1986, I volunteered for a month to eliminate feral sheep off Santa Cruz Island for the Nature Conservancy. As a Spokane County Commissioner from 1995-2004, I was able to influence many environmental decisions in our county, including a more restrictive critical area ordinance and pass one of the better county comprehensive plans under GMA in the state. During my commissioner years and while on the Eastern Washington Growth Management Board, I was selected to sit on the first Salmon Recovery Funding Board; the Nature Conservancy Board; and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Board.

What do you find most challenging about protecting water in Washington?

In my opinion, the most challenging aspect of protecting water in Washington is the blatant disregard for rules and regulations of the state by agricultural interests; the minor slaps on the wrist for industrial and municipality pollution; and the refusal of the DOE to enforce the law.

What do you wish other people knew about CELP or water conservation generally?

Water conservation can only be achieved through educating our youth. Environmental issues classes, like water conservation, should be a part of the K-12 curriculum to catch them early and often. We have to hope that with each generation more and more people will know better than to pollute or waste this precious resource.

If you could change one thing about CELP, what would it be?

If I could change one thing it would be the name. Better name recognition means more money; more money means more lawyers; more lawyers mean better compliance, whether through court orders or fear of being sued.

What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about water conservation?

It’s a battle we have to win. There is no other option. We have to enlist everyone involved in water use and educate them to the seriousness of continuing along the path we’ve been on.

Why are you supporting CELP as opposed to other groups working on water conservation?

I support CELP because this environmental group has a hammer – litigation – and isn’t afraid to use it frequently. Sometimes there is no other option to overcoming political pandering; corporate greed; and just plain ignorance than a good old fashioned lawsuit.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming involved with CELP?

Becoming involved with CELP is money and time well spent for their future and that of their kids and grandkids.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CELP?

When I’m not volunteering for CELP, I’m finishing up the landscaping around our new home and planning my next project, which this summer is paddling the Snake River from source to mouth, a journey of 1100 miles. Like my paddle down the Columbia River, I plan to write another guide book despite the fact it’s a labor of love and not a lot of money.

June Edition of Washington Water Watch is Out!

The lower Columbia River, below Bonneville Dam - Photo by John Roskelley

The lower Columbia River, below Bonneville Dam – Photo by John Roskelley

Our June edition of Washington Water Watch is now available. Check it out here!

This month, we profile our new board member, Brady Johnson, discuss our intervention into a law suit filed that challenges the Dungeness Instream Flow Rule, update our work on the Columbia River Treaty negotiations, highlight a petition to restore Moxlie Creek and more.

Report Released on Columbia River Governance through Prism of Tribes and First Nations

The University Consortium on Columbia River Governance has released its report: A Sacred Responsibility – Governing the Use of Water and Related Resources in the International

Columbia Basin through the Prism of Tribes and First Nations. (click to download, 9.20MB)

The report is based on the 4th transboundary symposium held at in Polson, Montana, in October 2012 and convened by the University Consortium and involving tribal and First Nation leaders along with about 150 other people and organizations including CELP.

The following key points are taken from the report’s Executive Summary:

The role of tribes and First Nations in the negotiation and implementation of international agreements like the CRT is a function of both domestic and international law, as well as a body of indigenous law that helps define how tribes and First Nations participate.

International law in general is largely silent as to the capacity of non-state actors, including tribes and First Nations, to participate in the process of negotiating international treaties. In practice, and in the context of the international Columbia Basin, international law provides sufficient flexibility to both Canada and the U.S. to involve tribes and First Nations in the process of negotiating and implementing agreements for the conservation and management of transboundary water and related resources.

Both Canada and the United States have previously invited tribes and First Nations to participate as members of various international negotiation teams and to play roles in successfully implementing international agreements.

In the United States, the President has exclusive authority to appoint a team to negotiate an international treaty, and nothing prohibits the President from including tribal representatives on an international negotiating team. The U.S. Senate also has the power to appoint “observers” to an international treaty negotiation.

In Canada, the federal government has the discretion to include First Nations in an international negotiating team as well as an affirmative legal duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations interests in various circumstances. Under certain circumstances the federal government or federal Crown may also be compelled to consult with, accommodate, and in some cases seek “consent” from First Nations with respect to positions to be taken in international negotiations.

The international Pacific Salmon Commission between Canada and the United States is a good example of how tribes and First Nations participated in the negotiation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST), and now participate in the implementation of that agreement through the Pacific Salmon Commission. The Nordic Saami Convention, Inuit Circumpolar Council, and Great Lakes Water Resources Compact and Agreement also demonstrate an international trend to include indigenous peoples in both negotiating and implementing governance arrangements for the use of transboundary land, water, and related resources.

There are a number of very compelling policy and pragmatic reasons to include

tribes and First Nations in negotiating and implementing future governance for the international Columbia Basin.

To advance their interests and aspirations with respect to the CRT, the Columbia Basin tribes and First Nations may want to pursue one or more of the following options:

Encourage the existing Entities to adjust the CRT by integrating ecosystem-based function as an objective of the CRT equal to the current purposes of flood risk management and hydropower development, either by amending the existing treaty or creating a separate new agreement;

Promote and support a model of “shared governance” of the international Columbia Basin led by sovereign entities, including tribes and First Nations; and

Encourage the Entities to establish and maintain an “advisory committee” on ecosystem function to provide ongoing input and advice to the Permanent Engineering Board, a bilateral group responsible for operational implementation of the CRT.

Meet Brady Johnson – New CELP Board Member

Brady Johnson is the son of CELP founder Ralph W. Johnson and has been a life-long supporter of a rational water policy.  Professionally Brady is retired from a long career litigating a wide variety of cases including criminal defense, civil rights, mental health and civil commitment, torts, class actions and for the last 15 years of his career, antitrust and consumer protection.  Brady has appeared before trial and appellate courts in several states, and in federal trial  and appellate courts in the 2nd, 3rd and 9th Circuits and in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Brady holds a B.A. from the University of Washington and a J.D. from the University of Puget Sound School of Law.  He also holds a Certificate in International Law from the McGeorge School of Law.  He is a member of the Washington State Bar.

How did you first become aware of/involved with CELP?

My father and Rachael [Paschal Osborn] founded CELP and I have been aware of it and its mission from its earliest days.

What’s your first memory of being aware of water conservation, or conservation in general?

My father taught water law among other things at the University of Washington School of Law. Even before that he was a conscientious conservationist and he instilled those values in his children. I do not recall a time when I was not aware of the value of water conservation, and of conserving and protecting our natural resources.

What do you find most challenging about protecting water in Washington?

The regressive allocation system that on the one hand creates reasonable sounding rules, then defeats them by creating massive exemptions. A further challenge is to get the State to recognize this incredibly obvious inconsistency and to persuade the agencies and legislature to actually fix it.

If you could change one thing about CELP, what would it be?

More resources to pursue its mission.

What do you wish other people knew about CELP or water conservation generally?

A common belief appears to be that water is an infinitely renewable resource and thus, we don’t need to worry about it. I wish that people understood that this is a fallacy, and a very dangerous one because it leads to tremendous overuse and misallocation of the resource. Continuing this process over the long term will create numerous economic, social and political disruptions, all of which can be avoided if we act appropriately now.

What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about water conservation?

That water conservation and effective management of this vital but limited resource is one of the most pressing issues of our day and will become more urgent in the coming years. I believe that the more that we can do now, the less pain our descendants will have to suffer as a result.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming involved with CELP?

I tell people that they should be thinking about becoming involved with CELP and that an easy way is to send a check, even a small one, each year.

If you weren’t volunteering on the CELP board, what would you be doing instead?

The same things I’m doing now, learning a new language, studying computer programming, going for walks and enjoying a pleasant retirement.

As a long-term supporter, what sorts of trends do you see in WA water conservation?

I don’t mean to be snarky, but I see a trend toward dryness. We are misallocating and overusing our water resource. While water must serve fish, farmers and people, the current system does not adequately address the limitations on the resource nor appropriately prioritize the need. There is no indication that state agencies or the legislature are taking the matter up in any serious way. In fact, the current system appears to be entrenched. Because of this, the work of CELP is particularly important in educating state officials as well as the people of Washington about the realities of water scarcity and our terrible system of managing it.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CELP?

I study new and interesting things, visit with friends and family and generally enjoy life.