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2023 Legislative Wrap-up

The 2023 Legislative Session is now over, and CELP is pleased with the results. Our priorities focused on supporting two bills, HB 1138 & SB 5094, which focused on building water resiliency into our current water management systems, and on stopping the bills like SB 5517, which would have allowed impairment of stream flows.

Those priorities, HB 1138 Drought Preparedness, passed with a few minor changes and would set up a planning requirement and a grant fund to help prepare for droughts before they happen.  SB 5094 Drinking Water Resiliency which added a requirement for large water system plans to begin planning for the impacts to their systems from Climate Change, passed out of the Senate, and then it was combined with HB1181, which added Climate Resilience planning into the Growth Management Act. The Senate then passed the new version of HB1181.

Other bills of interest that passed were HB 1322, an update to the Walla Walla water plan that would make sure a portion of new water had to go to instream flows, SB 5369 a bill tightening restrictions on PCB pollution; HB 117, a bill on climate resiliency focused on updating the state’s integrated climate response strategy within state agencies, and finally, bills we supported with our partners in Washington’s Clean and Abundant Waters Lobby Week,  a bill reducing plastic pollution (HB 1085) and a bill modifying the timelines for the Nooksack and Middle Columbia water rights adjudication processes (HB 1792).

Besides SB5517, we also opposed several other bills, SB 5628, HB 1285, SB 5622, and SB 5157, that would have had damaging effects on our water resources. And thanks to the vocal opposition from us, other conservation organizations, tribes, and individuals, none of these bills passed. We will continue to work with our allies to protect our water resources from misguided legislation and work to find a solution to providing water for growing communities without impairing stream flows.

We also supported several items in the Capital Budget, including funds for the Department of Ecology to continue the adjudications of the Nooksack and Upper Columbia watersheds and reauthorization of the funds for the Streamflow Restoration Grant Program.

Our success was due in large part to the support of our partners in Washington’s Clean and Abundant Waters Lobby Week, Sierra Club, several Washington tribes, and our members. Thank you all.!

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