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Washington Water Watch – December 2022

December Reflections


As the year approaches its end, we are all reflecting on the changes and the challenges we have overcome. But that hasn’t stopped us from doing our work to protect and restore our river flows. If nothing else, this year has shown us that the impacts from climate change on our water resources are making water availability unpredictable, and our current water management tools are not adequate to protect our rivers and streams and provide water for people and agriculture. Our challenge as we head into 2023 is to identify what tools will be needed. We will do this by working with our partners and allies to change water policy through agency action, legislation, and in the courts.

CELP always maintains a presence in the legislature to give a voice to those advocating for protection of our water resources for our endangered fish and communities that rely on them.Over the last few years, we have helped bring citizens from around the state meet with their Legislators and make their voices heard on water
and conservation legislation. This year we are joining other water organizations in 2023 Washington Water Lobby Days, January 31st through February 2nd. This year we will be doing our lobbying virtually, so you don’t have to worry about traveling to Olympia to participate. If you are interested in joining us, please see the registration information below.

CELP has a great team to do this work, but we can’t do it alone. We rely on donations from our members and supporters, and this year a generous supporter has offered a match to all year end donations up to $10,000. You can help us reach our goal and end the year strong by donating our secure website,

CELP’s staff and board want to send a special thanks to all of our supporters throughout the year, and to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.


Trish Rolfe, Executive Director

CELP Files Amicus Brief Supporting Department of Ecology and Pollution Control Hearings Board

This month, CELP filed an amicus brief supporting the Department of Ecology and the Pollution Control Hearings Board in a lawsuit against Burbank Irrigation District #4, the City of Pasco, the Franklin County Water Conservancy Board, and the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association. An amicus brief is a brief filed in a case in which we are not a party but where we feel the court could use additional information when determining the outcome of the case. For some background, the case began when Burbank and Pasco submitted applications to transfer a water right and change its place of use. Burbank was attempting to transfer part of its water rights to the city of Pasco, in exchange for $550,000, and change the place of use from Burbank’s municipal service area to Pasco’s municipal service area. After several back-and-forth decisions between lower authorities, Ecology appealed the case to the Court of Appeals.

Our amicus brief agreed with Ecology’s argument that the water right would be unlawfully enlarged and that the Superior Court mishandled certain aspects of the procedure involved. Our amicus also brought forth and focused on the issue of water speculation. Water speculation occurs when water resources are either bought or held on to and then used for profit rather than for beneficial use. In this case, Burbank’s water rights were protected from relinquishment because they were municipal water rights. Therefore, even though Burbank hadn’t used the water in several decades the right hadn’t been relinquished. CELP argued that any transfer of unused water municipal water rights should be subject to high levels of scrutinyduring the transfer process. In this case, and likely other cases, municipalities transferring water should be seen as a form of speculation. It does not seem logical that the municipal water rights protected from relinquishment to allow for municipal growth in the future should be transferable, especially if the municipal water right holder is going to profit from that transfer. It would encourage municipalities to request more water than they actually foresee needing in the future and then sell those rights to the highest bidder years or decades down the road. This is the very definition of speculation.

CELP has worked hard in the past few years to being to build up the anti-speculation doctrine in Washington. The courts, legislature, and governor’s office have all stated that speculation in water must be avoided. We felt that this argument needed more attention than was given in Ecology’s briefs and therefore decided to submit the amicus brief. We will have updates in the newsletter as we receive them! Read the brief in full here.

Passionate about protecting the Salish Sea and Washington’s rivers and streams? Let your voice be heard! Washington lawmakers want to hear from you. Join CELP and our friends at RE Sources, DERT, and Twin Harbors Waterkeeper for virtual Washington Water Lobby Days, Jan. 31st to Feb. 2nd, 2023. Register to participate or to attend a training session on Jan. 30th using the button below.

CELP Welcomes New Outreach and Development Coordinator, Karen Bosshart

CELP is pleased to welcome Karen Bosshart to the team as their new Development and Outreach Coordinator! A lifelong resident of the Salish Sea region, Karen grew up playing on the banks of the Cedar River. Her interest in environmental work began with an enduring love and fascination for Washington’s diverse aquatic ecosystems, which she funneled into many years volunteering with the Seattle Aquarium.

She worked as a preschool teacher for several years before pursuing her BA in Environmental Studies at the University of Washington. Throughout this time, she worked in a variety of outreach-centered roles through higher ed institutions and local government, spending two years working as an environmental educator for Bellevue and Seattle’s parks departments. Along with environmental justice, Karen is passionate about her Peruvian heritage, mass transit, and horror films.

Our members and supporters make our work protecting Washington’s waters possible. Thank you!

There are many ways to support CELP’s work. You can make a donation, share our emails and social media posts with your network, tell us why you support CELP’s mission, sponsor an event, and/or participate in CELP’s events and advocacy work. You can also make a contribution to CELP through Planned Gifts including bequests and retirement plans. Read more about CELP membership and supporting our waters here.

Thank you, and from all of us at CELP, we wish you a joyful and restorative holiday season.

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