Comments and Letters

Application for new water right out of the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, December 2021

Spokane River at 630 cfs – Photo by John Osborn taken at Riverside State Park

The Center for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP) submitted comments on the City of Airway Heights’ Optional DNS regarding the SEPA Application submitted regarding its application for a new water right out of the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

CELP disagrees that a DNS should be granted without a full EIS to examine the effects of the new water right on the outflow of the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer to the Spokane River during the gap between when pumping begins in the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer and when the water from the Airway Heights Paleochannel Aquifer recharges the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

Read our full letter to Airway Heights Planning Department here.

Skagit Valley by Madi Taskett

Darrington & US Golden Eagle’s application for a proposed new water use, August 2021

We summited comments for CELP & WELC on Ecology’s Draft decision on Darrington & US Golden Eagle’s application for a proposed new water use. We concurred with Ecology’s denial of the application based on the public interest and we offered legal analysis on other options Ecology has for denying the application. We also coordinated with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. We will continue to protect the Skagit River.

Read our full letter to Ecology here.

Ecology has released the final draft of the water right application. The final report denies the Golden Eagle’s application based on detriment to the public welfare and the fact that the mitigation plan was not approved. The report also says that Ecology did not change any of it’s findings based on comments received but that important questions were raised relating to Darrington’s water right portfolio and the suitability of their water rights for mitigation. Read the report here.

Crown Columbia Water Resources, March 2021

Columbia River flowing through the photo with blue sky and clouds.
Columbia River near Vantage by Kayla Magers

CELP wrote a letter to the Washington Department of Ecology with concerns over Crown Columbia Water Resources, LLC (“Crown”)’s unprecedented application (No. S4-33625) for a water right that appears to be intended to allow new diversions of water almost anywhere in the Columbia Basin. An area-wide permit of this type has, to CELP’s knowledge, never been approved or implemented in Washington. It would be an entirely new type of water appropriation program and raises serious legal and policy questions. We believe that approving such a permit would be unlawful, and have grave concerns about the process that is being followed.

Read our full letter here.

Nooksack River Adjudication, July 2020

Nooksack River by Elan Ebeling

CELP wrote a letter to the Washington Department of Ecology urging them to select the Nooksack River for the next basin to be adjudicated.

“CELP strongly urges Ecology to select the Nooksack River basin (WRIA 1) as the next Washington
basin to be adjudicated. The Nooksack is an important river system that supports native runs of wild chum, chinook, coho, and pink salmon, as well as other salmonids including bull trout and steelhead. The Tribes with reserved fishing rights in WRIA 1 (the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe) have requested action by the Federal Government to judicially determine their reserved water rights, including water for instream flows to protect their rights to fish and in turn the habitat on which those rights depend.”

Read our full letter to Ecology here.

We are also lobbying for funding to start the adjudication process in support of the Governor’s proposed operating budget.

Chehalis River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Project, May 2020

Chehalis River. Proposed Dam Site. Photo by Shane Anderson

CELP provided comments on the Chehalis River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in opposition to the proposed dam.

“Building any dam would make no practical, environmental, or economic sense, and would violate Washington’s legal obligations under treaties with Indian nations, which have the status of federal law, and the Endangered Species Act. Instead, the state should foster wetland restoration and other resilient designs to make the floodplain safer for people. “

Read our full comments here.

Comments on the Draft License Application for the Goldendale Energy Storage Project, March 2020

CELP has two primary concerns: first, that the best and most up-to-date studies be used in evaluating the Project’s potential effects on wildlife, and second, that the concerns of the Yakama Nation regarding cultural resources be fully addressed and that the Project be constructed so as not to threaten areas important to the Nation.

Read our full comments to FERC here.

Other Comments and letters over the years

Comments on the Department of Ecology’s June 2018 Draft Final Guidance for Determining Net Ecological Benefit (NEB). The Center for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP) and the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team
(DERT). June 8, 2019. /wp-content/uploads/Comments-on-Draft-Final-NEB-Guidance.pdf

Comment on Okanogan County Ordinance 2016-5, concerning
determinations of water availability with respect to building permit applications.
December 19, 2016. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-Comments-on-Okanogan-County-Ordinance-No.-2016-5.pdf

Comments on the draft Report entitled “Mitigation Options for the Impacts of New Permit-Exempt Groundwater Withdrawals (“Report”). November 20, 2015. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-comments-Ecology-Draft-Mitigation-Alternatives-Report.pdf

Comments on the draft reclaimed water rule, proposed chapter 173-219 WAC. September 20, 2015. /wp-content/uploads/Reclaimed-water-rule-comments-FINAL.pdf

CELP Rural Water Supply Guidance Document Comments. March 31, 2015. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-Comments-on-Rural-Water-Supply-Report-3-31-15-FINAL-w-attachment.pdf

Comments regarding the City of Spokane’s proposed applications to add a point of withdrawal to two existing water rights. January 22, 2015. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-comments-on-draft-City-of-Spokane-ROEs-1-22-15.pdf

Comments on the City of Walla Walla draft Report of Examination (ROE). October 4, 2014. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-Comments-on-Walla-Walla-ASR-ROE-10-4-14.pdf

Comment on Okanogan County’s update of the 2009 Environmental Impact Statement: Addendum A: Revisions to the Okanogan County Comprehensive Plan. April 8, 2011. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-Comments-on-Okanogan-County-SEPA-4-8-11-FINAL-1.pdf

Comments on draft WAC Ch. 173-517, the Qulicene-Snow WRIA rule. July 10, 2009. /wp-content/uploads/Quilcene-Snow-draft-rule-comments-7-10-09-FINAL.pdf

Comments for the Odessa Subarea Study feasibility study and environmental impact statement. September 19, 2008./wp-content/uploads/CELP-Scoping-Comments-9-19-08.pdf

Comment on the preview of USBR’s appraisal study of providing new surface water supply to the Odessa Subarea. December 15, 2007. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-Comments-on-Odessa-Appraisal-12-15-07.pdf

Wenatchee Watershed Rule Comments. August 23, 2007. /wp-content/uploads/Wenatchee-Comments-8-23-07.pdf

Comments on the draft amendments to the Walla Walla basin rule, WAC Ch. 173-532. These comments are submitted by the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and WaterWatch of Oregon. March 23, 2007. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-Comments-on-draft-WW-rule-3-23-07-Final-Corrected.pdf

Comments on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the latest proposal to mine gold from Buckhorn Mountain in northeastern Okanogan County, Washington. December 14, 2005. /wp-content/uploads/CELP-CommentsDraftSEIS-12-14-2005.pdf