The 2022 legislative session is going mostly remote due to a spike in COVID cases. We are tracking bills, lobbying, and providing you with all the information you need to contact your legislators and urge them to protect our water resources.
The first week of February we hosted our 4th annual Clean & Abundant Waters lobby event. Thank you to everyone who joined us! With around 50 volunteers, we met with 28 legislators and their staff representing 13 legislative districts. It is so important to meet with your elected officials on water and environmental policies and show you care. We greatly appreciate everyone who made this week possible and participated. Thank you!
More about our priority bills:
- The Lorraine Loomis Act for Salmon Recovery (HB 1838/ SB 5727): Some Puget Sound salmon species have declined by 90% compared to historical populations. The Act requires properly functioning riparian management zones around rivers and streams, including healthy vegetation to maintain cool waters. It also increases the focus on salmon recovery in land use planning for the future, with important financial assistance, monitoring, and accountability to address the urgency of the salmon crisis. Unfortunately, this bill does not seem to be moving forward. We will support the tribes’ efforts for salmon recovery and focus on budget items that protect our water resources.
- Operating Budget Salmon Recovery: We support Water Quantity 1. Create a pilot program to develop new streamflow restoration projects that will store cold water for salmon during times of high temperatures and drought. Govs Supplemental Operating Budget, section 302 (45). 2.Develop guidance that encourages reclaimed water use in areas with deficient water flows and temperatures for salmon. 3.Establish an advisory group to make recommendations on modernizing the state water law to include salmon needs for adequate stream flows and cool water. Govs Supplemental Operating Budget, section 302 (43). Water Quality 1. Fully support implementation of the Nutrient General Permit for Puget Sound to reduce the impacts of wastewater treatment plant overflows. 2.Increase local jurisdiction capacity to address toxic pollutants in stormwater. 3.Accelerate cleanup of toxics in stormwater runoff from industrial and contaminated sites where salmon runs are at risk. 4. Complete proviso… and study the ability of stormwater systems to filter out toxic tire dust. 5. Implement the water quality plan on the Columbia River to reduce high river temperatures detrimental to salmon survival. 6.Accelerate retrofit of stormwater facilities to address toxic hot spots.
- The RENEW Act (SB 5697): Globally, 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment every year, devastating the world’s oceans, ecosystems, and communities. The Act will (among other provisions) 1) Establish an extended producer responsibility system that make producers of packaging and paper products responsible for the full lifecycle of their products; 2) Require that by 2031, 100% of the packaging and paper products made or sold into Washington is reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
- Updating Outdated Sewage Treatment Plant Permit Fees (SB 5585): Ecology seeks authority to remove an outdated cap on fees that can be charged to municipalities for water quality permits, so that they can adequately support these communities with their permitting needs. Stagnant fees have led to an underfunding of the permit program, meaning Ecology cannot provide the support communities need to ensure their wastewater treatment facilities are functioning properly and protecting streams, rivers, and Puget Sound. The bill will remove the statutory cap on how much municipal jurisdictions may pay in wastewater discharge permit fees in RCW 90.48.465, and Ecology will work with communities to align Ecology’s permit staffing and resources with the workload in 2022, and then update the permit fees in rule in 2023.
- Conserving and Restoring Kelp Forests and Eelgrass Meadows (SB 5619 / HB 1661): Coastal ecosystems and marine vegetation provide an array of valuable ecosystem goods and services to deep water and nearshore environments in Puget Sound and along the coastline. In particular, kelp forests and eelgrass meadows act as three dimensional foundations for diverse and productive nearshore ecosystems, supporting food webs and providing important habitat for a wide array of marine life, including orcas and threatened and endangered salmon and salmonid species. These marine forests and meadows play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation by sequestering carbon and relieving ocean acidification. Marine vegetation can sequester up to 20 times more carbon than terrestrial forests, and therefore represent a critical tool in the fight against climate change. The bill will have the Department of Natural Resources work with partners to establish a kelp forest and eelgrass meadow health and conservation plan that endeavors to, by the year 2040, conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.
- Clarifying Stock Watering (SB 5882 / HB 2106): We are firmly against this bill because it attempts to expand riparian rights beyond what was codified in the 1917 water code. We have a long history in Washington that shows that the prior appropriation system only has allowances for riparian uses in certain limited circumstances. Only those riparian rights that existed in 1917 are recognized in the water code (Department of Ecology v. Abbott, 1985). Riparian rights for stock watering that did not exist in 1917 are not exempt from the water permit process. As our water becomes scarcer, it is necessary for the state to understand where all the water is going in order to best manage the resource for people, wildlife, and agriculture. Instead, we support the process that has already begun between Ecology and stakeholders to clarify stock water rights and Ecology’s policy. We believe this process will work to resolve a path forward that people on both sides can agree on and avoid unnecessary litigation.
Bill Tracker and Action Alerts
Jan 21 Public hearing in the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources at 8:00 AM. (Committee Materials)
Unfortunately, this bill is not moving forward. We will support the tribes’ efforts for salmon recovery and focus on budget items that protect our water resources. There are important pieces in the Governor’s operating budget for salmon recovery and water protections to build upon to still create action on saving salmon this legislative session.
Waste Reduction: RENEW Act (SB 5697) – dead
Status: Feb 2 Executive action taken in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology at 8:00 AM. (Committee Materials) ENET – Majority; 1st substitute bill be substituted, do pass.(View 1st Substitute)(Majority Report)Minority; do not pass. (Minority Report) And refer to Ways & Means. Feb 3 Referred to Ways & Means.
In spite of all our collective efforts, we just got to a situation where there were not going to be enough votes! BUT we were able to get a lot of people on board with the bill as a result of advocacy from folx like our Clean and Abundant Waters Lobby Week attendees.
Setting domestic wastewater discharge fees (SB 5585)- PASSED THE SENATE. In the House
Status: Feb 14 Rules suspended. Placed on Third Reading. Third reading, passed; yeas, 27; nays, 20; absent, 0; excused, 2. (View Roll Calls)
IN THE HOUSE Feb 18 Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Environment & Energy at 10:00 AM in anticipation of other legislative action. (Committee Materials) Feb 22 Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Environment & Energy at 8:00 AM (Subject to change). (Committee Materials)
Conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows (SB 5619) – PASSED THE SENATE. In the House
IN THE HOUSE Feb 12 First reading, referred to Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources.
Feb 18 Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources at 8:00 AM (Subject to change). (Committee Materials) Feb 23Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources at 10:00 AM (Subject to change). (Committee Materials)
Clarifying Stock Watering (SB 5882)
Status: Feb 3 Executive action taken in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks at 1:30 PM. (Committee Materials) AWNP – Majority; 1st substitute bill be substituted, do pass. (View 1st Substitute)(Majority Report)Minority; do not pass. (Minority Report) Passed to Rules Committee for second reading.