Washington Water Watch: October Edition

Dear Friends,

We hope you’ve enjoyed the few sunny October days and are doing well. During the rainy season, don’t be tricked into thinking we don’t have water supply issues. We will hear forecasts of endless days of rain, but it is important to remember to keep conversations on water use efficiency and conservation going. We still need to protect our water resources. It is also important to be prepared for floods and have an emergency kit for storms and power outages.

The climate is warming and our weather patterns and natural disasters are going to be more extreme. Over time we will have even wetter winters, but more precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow. Less snowpack will exacerbate water issues in the summer. Summers will continue to get drier and drought and fire season, longer. The west is already facing a megadrought. Timing is everything.

We need to take this time of year to think about how we can affect water policy in the coming legislative session, what we can do on a local level to increase conservation efforts, and how we can bring people together to create more equitable water management.

With the end of the year approaching, we are excited to be hosting our Celebrate Water reception and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) workshop series. We are thrilled to be planning Celebrate Water as an in-person event and truly hope to see you soon.

In this issue you will find an update on the Golden Eagle/Darrington water permit application, an article on conservation in water management at different levels, information on a huge Clean Water Act victory, a survey on email communication, water and fish news, details on Celebrate Water and our CLE workshops, registration for the One River, Ethics Matter conference, and ways to support CELP’s work protecting Washington’s waters.

Sincerely,
Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

Read the full newsletter here.


Washington Water Watch: September Edition

Dear friends,
As we are finally starting to see rain again, we reflect on a surprising water year. Hydrologist track and measure water on a different time cycle than a standard calendar year. A water year is measured from October 1st through September 30th. As a new water year is about to start we look back to see what patterns might continue.
This summer showed us that even in years with great winter and spring snowpack, our waters are in trouble. With extreme heat and parched land, snowpack melted quickly. Areas that don’t rely on snowpack, but rather precipitation, are in even more trouble since they received below average precipitation for much of the year. As drought seasons become longer and temperatures warmer, this pattern will continue. Low flows, warm rivers, dry wells, and more will continue to be bigger issues for everyone.
CELP will continue to work for better water management and not let progress towards water conservation and water use efficiency take the back burner during the rainy season. More needs to be done for our waters. We all rely on healthy, abundant waterways.
10 years ago in September the world’s largest dam removal project was started on the Elwha River. Dam removal has helped restore the estuary, river, and wildlife but recovery is ongoing. Now as more dams projects are proposed, CELP continues to fight for our rivers, fish, and treaty rights. We are working to help stop the Chehalis River dam project and encourage alternative approaches for flood management. Our waters need protected for salmon, the environment, and our communities.
In this issue you will find an introduction to CELP’s newest Board Members, an update on the Chehalis River, Information on Ecology’s grants, water and fish news, and upcoming events.
Sincerely,
Trish Rolfe, Executive Director

Read Full Newsletter: https://conta.cc/3AAVLB2


Washington Water Watch: August Edition

Dear friends,

As the dry, hot weather continues, we are increasing water conservation efforts, protecting streamflows, and keeping an eye on our water resources.

Drought and fire season started early, putting our water resources in dire shape. Fifty-nine percent of the state is in severe to exceptional drought. King5 reported by mid-August, Washington and Oregon had already seen more than 20 times more land burned by wildfires this year than by mid-August last year. More needs to be done to protect our waters and adapt to our changing climate.

We are also keeping an eye on COVID-19 and taking necessary precautions to keep our staff and community safe. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on our survey about attending events. We decided it was prudent to reschedule Celebrate Water. The new date is December 9th. We are hopeful circumstances will improve and we will be able to celebrate at Ivar’s Salmon House then.

CELP was greatly saddened to hear about the passing of Lorraine Loomis. Our hearts go out to her family, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and all who had the honor of knowing her.

In this issue you will find our latest comments to Ecology, our 2020 Annual Report, a tribute to Lorraine Loomis, information on water shortages in the West, Water & Fish News, and event details for Celebrate Water, the One River, Ethics Matter Conference, and AWRA-WA’s Annual Conference.

Sincerely,
Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

trolfe@celp.org

Read the full newsletter: https://conta.cc/3yAipIc


Celebrate Water 2021: Postponed

Immediate Release

In light of the delta variant spreading and with feedback from our community, Board of Directors, and staff, we decided it was prudent to reschedule Celebrate Water. The safety of our community is our first priority. We are hopeful that by postponing we will be able to gather in person at Ivar’s Salmon House in December. We cannot wait to celebrate with you on December 9th.

Celebrate Water will present the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award to retired Tribal Attorneys Sharon Haensly and Kimberly Ordon to honor their careers protecting natural resources and tribal interests. We will celebrate victories for our waters and discuss water issues.

We will be hosting our annual all day Continuing Legal Education (CLE) workshop prior to the evening Celebrate Water reception. More information on the workshops coming soon.

More about the event: https://celp.org/celebrate-water-2021/


Lorraine Loomis

We are greatly saddened to hear about the passing of Lorraine Loomis. She was an incredible champion for fish and tribal rights. It is a great loss. Our hearts are with Lorraine’s family, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and all who had the honor to know her.

Seattle Times Article Lorraine Loomis, Pacific Northwest champion for salmon, dies at 81

News Release from Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Press Contact:   Chairman Steve Edwards, (360) 840-5804               

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 10, 2021

Statement from Swinomish Tribal Chairman Steve Edwards

regarding the passing of Lorraine Loomis

Swinomish Indian Reservation, Fidalgo Island, Washington – Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Steve Edwards provided the following comment on the death today of Lorraine Loomis: “It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of our beloved elder, Lorraine Loomis. Lorraine was not only the Director of the Swinomish Fisheries program for more than forty-five years and the Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, she was also the revered matriarch of a large Swinomish family. Please join us in prayers for her family in the difficult days ahead. We will share future plans as they become available.”

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is a federally recognized Indian Tribe with more than 900 members.  Swinomish is a legal successor to aboriginal bands that were signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott.  Its 10,000 acre reservation is located 65 miles North of Seattle, Washington on Fidalgo Island.

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Washington Water Watch: July Edition

Dear Friends,

As the summer progresses, we at CELP are keeping an eye on our water resources. Our rivers and drinking aquifers are in trouble.

Parts of Washington have been experiencing drought since this spring. Now a drought emergency has been declared for the entire state, with the exception of Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma metropolitan areas. Streamflows are low and many rivers’ water temperatures are putting fish at risk. Salmon in the Columbia River are being threatened by high water temperatures. The Spokane River dropped way below its average flow for this time of year and below its legally protected summer instream flow level. Use your water wisely and help reduce water consumption to keep water in the aquifer and river.

Drought conditions have also made this fire season more difficult and intense. A state of emergency was declared due to high fire risk the beginning of July and fires have spread across the Pacific Northwest. Warmer and drier weather is predicted through the end of September. Our waters need our help. Support CELP at celp.org to help us protect, preserve, and restore our waters.

We are happy to be back in the office on a hybrid model working with our new team in person. We are enjoying working together. Our new Staff Attorney, Maggie hit the ground running with the Spokane River PCB case. Hillary, our Outreach Coordinator has also been off to a great start participating in groups and coalitions on water issues across the state.

CELP was saddened to learn Jan Sharar passed away. Jan was a strong water advocate and will be greatly missed. Our sincerest condolences go out to her loved ones.

In this issue you will find an introduction of CELP’s new Staff Attorney, an update on the Spokane River PCB case, information on the emergency drought and CELP’s statement, water conservation tips, a story on drought in the West, a tribute to Jan Sharar, water and fish news, Celebrate Water information and tickets, and a save the date for the 8th One River, Ethics Matter conference.

Sincerely,
Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

trolfe@celp.org

Read the full newsletter: https://conta.cc/2VhBK2G


News Release: Federal judge asked to compel cleanup of cancer-causing chemicals in the Spokane river

News release

For immediate release

Federal judge asked to compel cleanup of cancer-causing chemicals in Spokane River

Lawsuit filed 10 years ago has not moved government to protect river, community

Link:  Motion for Summary Judgment

Spokane – River advocates are asking a federal judge to rule on their 10-year-old lawsuit to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a cleanup plan for one of Washington State’s most polluted rivers. The Spokane River is heavily polluted with PCBs. The lawsuit began in July 2011, when river advocates notified EPA of their intent to sue on behalf of the river unless EPA complied with federal law. In 2015, a federal judge ordered EPA to come up with a schedule for a cleanup plan. EPA has yet to write a cleanup plan for the Spokane River.

“The days of using the Spokane River as a chemical dump are over,” said Tom Soeldner of the Spokane River Team. “Year after year we waited patiently. Now we are asking the federal courts to stop polluters from flushing PCBs into the River.”

The federal Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, requires that polluted waters be fishable and swimmable. Although the State of Washington and EPA have been aware of PCB pollution for decades, the Spokane River still does not have a cleanup plan for PCBs.  Washington State Department of Ecology (WADOE) has continued to issue permits to polluters allowing them to dump PCBs into the Spokane River with no controls.

Washington Department of Health has issued a health advisory on PCB-contaminated fish in the Spokane River that has been in place for many years. PCBs have adverse effects on animals and human populations, including causing cancers in humans.  PCBs move up the food chain. Low concentrations in river water result in high concentrations in fish and other river life.

“‘Patience’ is the one word describing river advocates,” said John Allison, a Spokane River Team member. “Year after year we’ve waited. We’ve run out of hope and time with the agencies responsible for the Spokane River. We are returning to the courtroom to ask the federal judge to rule for the river and life.” 

“We need a clean, flowing water for the return of salmon,” said Kathy Dixon of the Spokane River Team. “Salmon along with our children and the river’s life are compelling reasons to comply with federal law and move forward with a cleanup plan.”

BACKGROUND:  10 YEARS OF LITIGATION TO CLEAN UP THE SPOKANE RIVER

PCBs are a group of industrial compounds associated with liver dysfunction and cancer, and are now banned in the United States. Washington State has formally recognized that the Spokane River is impaired for PCBs since 1996. When a river is listed for PCBs, the federal Clean Water Act requires binding cleanup targets before issuing any permits that would add more PCBs to the Spokane River.  Such a cleanup plan has never been completed for the Spokane River, but state and federal agencies have issued pollution permits anyway, failing to include numeric limits.

In 2011, the WADOE abandoned efforts to adopt a PCB cleanup plan, largely because of political opposition by Spokane River polluters, who would be required to reduce PCBs in effluent by up to 99% to meet both Washington State and Spokane Tribe water quality standards. These polluters include Inland Empire Paper, Kaiser, and the Liberty Lake, Spokane County, and City of Spokane sewage treatment plants. Instead, Ecology formed the Spokane River Toxics Task Force and required the polluters to participate, but also gave them control over the goals and activities of the Task Force.

Subsequently EPA issued discharge permits to three Idaho dischargers – the City of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden Water & Sewer District – also not requiring PCB limits and also requiring participation in the Toxics Task Force.

Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) filed a citizen lawsuit against EPA in 2011. The Spokane Tribe of Indians intervened in support of the citizen lawsuit, and the Department of Ecology, Spokane County and Kaiser intervened to defend EPA. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein ruled in March 2015 that EPA’s failure to require a clean-up plan was an abuse of discretion and ordered EPA to submit a plan to the Court by July 2015.

EPA, Ecology, Kaiser, and Spokane County appealed the ruling, but EPA withdrew its appeal and submitted a document (which fails to require a cleanup plan) to the District Court. In April 2016 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the Ecology-County-Kaiser appeal in a one-paragraph decision. This meant that the legal challenge to the EPA’s “non-cleanup plan” document could move forward in District Court. 

During the past five years, Spokane River advocates have waited patiently for WADOE and EPA to complete a cleanup plan and begin its implementation.  In the absence of a cleanup plan, Sierra Club and CELP are now asking the federal judge to compel a cleanup plan under the law.

Sierra Club and CELP are represented by Marc Zemel of Smith & Lowney, a Seattle firm specializing in Clean Water Act litigation. The Spokane Tribe of Indians is represented by Ted Knight.

Contacts:

    Tom Soeldner, Spokane River Team  waltsoe@gmail.com 

    John Allison, Spokane River Team. jdallison@eahjlaw.com 


CELP’s New Staff Attorney

Press Release

June 29th, 2021

We are delighted to introduce CELP’s new Staff Attorney Maggie Franquemont. Maggie started with CELP on June 21st, 2021 and is taking over Dan Von Seggern’s position as our Staff Attorney.

Maggie has been passionate about water conservation since she was a small child growing up on Colorado’s Front Range. She took a circuitous path to Washington through Montana, Wyoming, and Oregon earning her B.S. in Land Rehabilitation from Montana State University, working for Yellowstone and Mount Rainier National Parks, and earning her J.D. from University of Oregon along the way. Maggie has focused her legal career on Environmental & Natural Resource Law as well as Ocean & Coastal Law. She is passionate about everything water and is thrilled to be working with CELP to protect Washington’s water resources. She is an avid skier, paddler, and rock climber and also spends time backpacking, painting, and sewing. Her favorite river in Washington is whichever one she is headed to next, and her favorite dinosaur is the Stegosaurus.

You can reach her at MFranquemont@Celp.org


Washington Water Watch: May & June Edition

EDIT: The newsletter includes a save the date for Celebrate Waters. The date has since changed to September 9th.

Press Release

Dear Friends,

As we approach summer, we at CELP are keeping an eye on our water resources. This winter and spring we received plenty of snow that resulted in a heavy snowpack. Snowpack is a critical frozen reservoir that is released over the spring and summer as it melts. This spring much of the state has had warmer temperatures and below normal precipitation. Even with our current snowpack, there is concern that it will not last through the driest parts of the summer. Soil moisture is also an indicator of how much snowpack makes it into the rivers. In dry conditions the soil acts as a sponge and less snowmelt is added to stream flows. For our rivers that rely on precipitation more than snowpack there is even greater concern.

The Department of Ecology issued a drought advisory the end of May for most of Washington state, including all areas east of the Cascade Mountains, portions of southwest Washington and the Washington coast. The advisory acts as an early warning of possible drought to promote awareness and readiness. This is the first time the Department of Ecology has issued a drought advisory since it received the authority to do so from the Legislature in 2020. In the 2020 legislative session, CELP supported and advocated for Ecology’s drought preparedness bill. We are hopeful this action improves awareness among water users and increases readiness to respond to drought and conserve water.

As we all come out of the long COVID lock down, change and growth are coming to CELP. We are thrilled to introduce our new Water Policy Outreach Coordinator as well as our new Legal Intern. We are looking forward to them bringing new energy and ideas to our work. While we have adapted to working remotely, we are excited to be going back into the office soon and getting to work as a team in person. And this month we say goodbye to a long-time employee, our staff attorney Dan Von Seggern. We wish Dan the best in his new position, and we are excited to add a new staff attorney. 

In this issue you will find an update on our legislative success, an update on watershed restoration plans, a welcome to our new team members, water and fish in the news, a GiveBIG thank you, and a save the date for Celebrate Waters.

Sincerely,
Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

trolfe@celp.org

Read Full Newsletter: https://conta.cc/35hoGMu


Introduction: Water Policy & Outreach Coordinator

Press Release June 7th, 2021

We are thrilled to introduce Hillary Jasper Rose as our new Water Policy & Outreach Coordinator!

Hillary is a graduate of Vermont Law’s Masters of Environmental Law and Policy program. She has worked in community outreach and advocacy in recent years, including work with Seattle City Council, Seattle Public Utilities, local nonprofit organizations, and grassroots movements. She holds a passion for public trust and equitable access to resources. She strives to educate and engage communities across the state, sharing information, legislation, and opportunities for individual involvement in environmental sustainability. Hillary has traveled and lived all over the world, but she is delighted to call this beautiful state her home.

You can reach out to her at HJRose@Celp.org