Monthly Archives: December 2021

Washington Water Watch: End of Year Edition

Dear Friends,

We are wishing you very happy holidays and hope you are doing well!

This year, as we all continued to be impacted by the COVID pandemic, CELP went through some big changes and accomplished exciting victories. We welcomed two new staff members, Maggie Franquemont as Staff Attorney, and Hillary Jasper Rose as Water Policy & Outreach Coordinator. We have adopted a hybrid working style as we build our team and the world continues to largely run over Zoom.

With the help of an incredible support system we achieved great things in 2021. CELP successfully encouraged the Department of Ecology to select the Nooksack River Basin (WRIA 1) as well as the Roosevelt Lake and middle tributaries (WRIA 58) as the next Washington basins to be adjudicated in coordination with the Nooksack Indian Tribe and Lummi Nation. We hosted our 3rd annual Clean & Abundant Water Lobby day as a virtual week long event helping pass bills for funding river basin adjudication, reducing plastic pollution, preventing seabed mining, and water re-use. CELP helped get a Watershed plan for WRIA 9 approved that would replace water used by new permit exempt well in the Green River watershed. We protected the Skagit River by submitting comments to Ecology in support of their denial of the proposed Golden Eagle water permit. We reached a settlement with the EPA on the Spokane River PCB levels. CELP also submitted comments to Ecology urging reform of Water Banking and the Trust Water Rights programs to curb water rights speculation.

We have accomplished a lot to protect our rivers. As we wrap up the year and look forward to our work in 2022, CELP has big goals. We plan to not only continue our work protecting waters in Washington but take a more proactive role in restoring our waters and fighting for more sustainable and equitable water policies and management.
You can help protect our waters by making an end of year gift to CELP. We are incredibly thankful to have met our $10,000 goal and match! Now our loyal supporter is increasing their donation to match donations dollar for dollar up to $15,000. Help us reach our new goal and be ready to tackle the legislative session and year ahead. You can also help further our mission by sharing our work with your friends and family.

You make our work protecting, preserving, and restoring waters in Washington possible! We are incredibly thankful for our supporters, members, partners, Board of Directors, volunteers, sponsors, staff, and community. Thank you for your dedication to protecting our water resources.

In this issue you will find an update on the Spokane River PCB case with a call to action, our comments on an Airway Heights water right application, information on the Salmon Recovery Plan, our thoughts on Puget Sound Partnership’s State of the Sound report, an article on water speculation, water and fish news, a recap on our Celebrate Water event, an announcement that we postponed our CLE workshop series with new dates TBA, and information on ways to support CELP.

Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

Read Full Newsletter Here

Celebrate Water Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating our waters and honoring Sharon Haensly and Kimberly Ordon. It was CELP’s pleasure to present Sharon and Kimberly with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award. We are incredibly thankful for their work protecting waters, natural resources, and tribal rights.

Sharon Haensly

Sharon has practiced law since 1988. She has a Bachelors of Science degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University (1981), and a law degree from the University of Oregon (1988). She has been a staff attorney with the Squaxin Island Tribe’s Legal Department since 2009. Before that, Sharon was a staff attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and worked at several Seattle law firms that represent Indian tribes.

Kimberly Ordon (KO)

Kimberly Ordon is a graduate of the University of Colorado (BA 1976; MA 1980) and of Lewis & Clark Law School (JD 1985).  Kimberly started her legal career representing tribes at the Native American Program of Oregon Legal Services in Portland, Oregon. In 1986 she received a Reginald Heber Smith (Reggie) Fellowship through Howard University to continue her work with tribes.  While working with the Klamath Tribe, Kimberly began her career-long advocacy for tribal fishing rights.  At the end of her Fellowship, she was invited by the Tulalip Tribes to continue the battle to protect salmon and their habitat. Kimberly happily served as an attorney for the Tulalip Tribes for over 30 years—the Best Job Ever—with great leadership and colleagues.

Sharon and Kimberly are incredible water protectors and their work embodies the vision of our founder Prof. Ralph W. Johnson and the connection between Water Law and Indian Law. Thank you Sharon and Kimberly for all you do to protect our waters!

Thank you to all who were able to join us in person at Ivar’s Salmon House for a lovely reception, delicious food, and great conversation. We enjoyed seeing everyone, even behind masks, and spending time with our community. Thank you!

Special shoutout to the Tulalip Tribes for being our presenting sponsor and to the Squaxin Island Tribe. A huge thank you to all our sponsors, attendees, and supporters. You make this event and our work possible! Together, we raised over $16,000 for CELP to continue our important work protecting waters in Washington and fighting for sustainable and equitable water policies and management. THANK YOU!

CELP’s CLE Workshop Series POSTPONED

December 3rd

Unfortunately, we have to postpone our CLE workshop series “Municipal Water Law: Where are we now” until next year. The series was originally being hosted virtually on Dec. 14th and Dec. 15th as a three 2-hour workshops covering Municipal Water Law Overview & Compromises, Municipalities and their Inchoate Rights, and Municipal Water Use Efficiency & Conservation.

New date TBA

Spokane River PCB Win & Call to Action

Spokane River wins long-overdue PCB pollution cleanup plan in EPA settlement

30-day public comment period opens:  please write in support

On December 1 in the Federal Register, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its settlement with Sierra Club, Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and plaintiff-intervenor, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, committing the agency to prepare a cleanup plan for cancer-causing PCBs that severely pollute the Spokane River.  For the River and life that depends on it, this settlement caps 25 years of advocacy, including 10 years of litigation filed by Sierra Club, the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, and intervenor Spokane Tribe of Indians. Our lawsuit sought to enforce the Clean Water Act mandate for an EPA cleanup plan, necessary because of decades of inaction by the State of Washington.

PCBs are a dangerous chemical that harms aquatic and human life, causing cancer and other diseases. Tiny amounts of the toxin concentrate as it moves up the food chain. The Washington Department of Health’s public health advisory, issued many years ago and still in effect, warns against consumption of PCB-contaminated fish in the Spokane River.

Under the settlement, called a “Consent Decree,” EPA will complete a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) by September 2024. A TMDL is a science-based pollution cleanup plan.  This one will be designed to ensure that the Spokane River meets protective water quality standards issued by Washington state and the Spokane Tribe.

PCB manufacture is banned in the U.S. Most PCBs entering the Spokane River pre-date the ban, with one major exception: Inland Empire Paper Co. (IEP) recycles paper printed with imported inks that contain PCBs. 

The TMDL will require significant reductions in PCB pollution discharged to the Spokane River by the five industrial and municipal treatment plants located in Washington. In addition to IEP, Kaiser Aluminum and the Liberty Lake, Spokane County, and City of Spokane wastewater treatment plants each discharge PCBs to the river. All five discharge pipes are permitted by the Washington Department of Ecology, but these permits contain no limits on PCBs flowing into the Spokane River. The TMDL will change that.

The PCB cleanup plan is especially significant because of heavy use of the Spokane River by the public for recreation and the consumption of fish.

The settlement includes a 30-day public comment period. We will then present the settlement to the federal court for approval. Sierra Club and CELP are represented by Marc Zemel and Richard Smith of Smith & Lowney PLLC, a Seattle law firm specializing in Clean Water Act litigation. The Spokane Tribe of Indians is represented by Ted Knight.

Take Action and help a distressed river!  Deadline is January 3, 2022.

Click here to write your comment:

Consider making the following points:

  1. Most importantly, thank EPA and express your support for preparation of the PCB cleanup plan.  Public uses require a clean river.
  2. Insist that the cleanup plan be based on sound science. 
  3. Ask EPA to use state-of-the-art testing technology to measure PCBs.
  4. As a matter of human health and environmental justice, ask EPA to ensure that the cleanup plan complies with applicable water quality standards.

Contact the Spokane River Team for further questions:

John Osborn

Kathy Dixon

John Allison

Tom Soeldner

Rachael Osborn.