Washington Water Watch: March Edition

Dear Friends,

It has now been over a year since the start of the pandemic, and all our lives have changed. We hope you and your loved ones have stayed safe and well. All of us at CELP have adapted to our new normal of working remotely and spending a lot of our time in Zoom meetings. But even with these challenges, we have been able to continue our important work to protect and restore Washington’s waters. We have participated in watershed restoration work groups finding solutions to restore stream flows impaired by new permit exempt wells, and we continue working with stakeholders to find solutions to water speculation and improve the water trust and banking systems.

We have also taken this time to find inspiration and think about how CELP accomplishes our mission of protecting, preserving, and restoring waters across the state now and into the future. We envision a water management system in Washington state that is more equitable and sustainable to support healthy ecosystems, thriving fish and wildlife, and robust communities. These are big goals, but with your help, we are ready to do the work.

In this issue you’ll find a wrap up of Clean & Abundant Water lobby week, an update on the legislative session, the Nooksack Indian Tribe and Lummi Nation’s webinar on adjudication, CELP’s letter to Ecology with concerns over Crown Columbia’s application for an area-wide water permit, water and fish in the news, and appreciation for our members.

Sincerely,

Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

Read the full newsletter here.


Employment Opportunity: Water Policy Outreach Coordinator

UPDATE POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED

CELP is hiring a Water Policy Outreach Coordinator.

Water Policy Outreach Coordinator

Part-time: 20 hours per week

Water Policy Outreach Coordinator will work closely with CELP’s ED, Staff Attorney, Government Affairs Specialist and Board to build public support to accomplish program goals by coordinating community engagement to influence water policy change.

Duties include the following:

Works with the director to devise and recommend a plan and strategy for organizing and engaging volunteers and community allies.

Identifies recruits and organizes volunteers

Develops and implements a variety of engagement strategies including on-line and face-to-face to develop networks to support CELP goals.

Maintains and develops new partnerships with affinity groups who share many common goals and values. 

Develop relationships with community leaders, tribes, other organizations and officials who can influence water policy change.

Plan and implement community outreach events to generate public support with agency decision makers and in the media.

Identifies and is responsible for developing strong relationships with key people of influence including community leaders and public officials to influence positive campaign or program outcomes.

Coordinates and measures success of activities with manager and campaign or program leads to ensure progress towards mission and goals.

Performs administrative and clerical duties as assigned by supervisor.

Performs miscellaneous duties as directed.

Requirements, Knowledge & Skills:

  • 4-year degree preferred.
  • At least 1-year experience working with volunteers in the environmental movement, political campaigns, or other, similar organizations to plan and implement grassroots campaigns.
  • Basic knowledge of current environmental issues affecting Washington.  
  • Excellent writing and editing skills. 
  • Demonstrated skill in writing and producing newsletters.
  • On-line organizing experience is a plus.
  • Passion for the environment and a belief in the power of community organizing and policy advocacy.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills and demonstrated ability to clearly articulate ideas and easily strike up conversation with diverse groups of people.
  • Strong organizational and problem-solving skills and ability to work effectively in action-oriented office.
  • Ability to work independently, cooperatively and effectively with public, staff and volunteers. Strong ability to network, build trust, and build working relationships.
  • Ability to be flexible and responsive in a fast-paced and changing environment
  • Ability to think strategically and plan programs and campaigns and to collaborate effectively with others
  • Access to reliable transportation and willingness to accommodate community-based scheduling needs (i.e. meetings held in the evenings and on weekends at offsite locations)
  • Valid driver’s license, satisfactory driving record, and proof of auto insurance required.
  • Proficient computer skills including Microsoft Office, social networking sites, and database software.

The CELP office is in Seattle, however current COVID restrictions will require most work to be done remotely. Once restrictions are lifted a large portion of the job will be traveling around the state to relevant communities and locations.

$16.75 – $17 per hour plus accrued vacation and sick leave. Travel allowance and transit benefit available. 

E-mail cover letter, resume, and references to Trish Rolfe, trolfe@celp.org by May 15, 2021. Please, no phone inquiries.

CELP is an equal opportunity employer and actively works to ensure fair and equal treatment of its employees and constituents regardless of differences based on culture, socioeconomic status, race, marital or family situation, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, physical ability, or sexual orientation. CELP encourages BIPOC and LGBTQ applicants to apply.


Washington Water Watch: Jan. & Feb. Edition

February 16th 2021 

Happy New Year! We are starting the new year with a new administration, and with it hope for federal progress on clean and abundant water, strengthening tribal treaty rights, and modernizing the Columbia River Treaty.  

Photo of a winding road through snow and trees taken from an aerial view.

Here at home, we started the year with an atmospheric river soaking the pacific northwest. Seattle had the wettest start to the year in history. Olympia and Hoquiam also broke rainfall records in the first few days of the year. Now in February, snowstorms have moved across the state blanketing Seattle and the Puget Sound area. Snowpack in the Olympics and Cascades are at normal or slightly above normal levels. This is all good news for our stream flows for now. 

Everyone at CELP wants to say a big THANK YOU to all of our supporters. We know 2020 was a difficult year for many people, organizations and businesses and we are immensely grateful for your donations, time, ideas, and dedication to protecting our waters. With your support, we were able to face challenges head on and continue our work protecting our waters. We look forward to what we will accomplish this year together.

In this issue you’ll find introductions of our new board members and changes in board leadership, information on the 2021 legislative session and the bills we are tracking, salmon in the news, Rachael Osborn’s paper reflecting on the Water Resources Act of 1971, a call for applications for our 2021 legal internship, and congratulations to our 2020 Water Hero honoree and longtime friend Bob Anderson. 

We are hopeful for the future. As we move forward this year, our priorities are getting Streamflow Restoration Plans approved and getting water restoration and mitigation projects in these plans funded. We are also working to help get the adjudications of the Nooksack and Colville watersheds started and working with Ecology to restart instream flow setting for unprotected watersheds. These are big plans, but with your continued support we can make great strides to achieve them. 


Sincerely,

Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

trolfe@celp.org

Read the full newsletter here: https://conta.cc/3qstIii


Nooksack River Adjudication

What is an adjudication?

Sustainable management decisions about water, a precious shared resource, cannot be made without a baseline knowledge of water rights in a basin. Under Washington law, only a court can make a final determination of which water rights are valid. Adjudication is a court proceeding where the judge examines all water use in a river basin, and determines the extent and validity of water rights in that basin.

Why adjudicate the Nooksack?

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. Protecting the river, its salmon runs, and Tribal fishing rights requires that streamflows be protected. Like other rivers in Washington, diversions of water from the Nooksack threaten habitat for salmon. The Nooksack also appears to suffer more than many other rivers from illegal, unpermitted diversions of water.  By adjudicating water rights in the basin, the state can determine how much water is being legally used as well as gaining control of unpermitted (and illegal) diversions of water.

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.

What is CELP doing on this issue?

We urged the Department of Ecology to select the Nooksack River basin (WRIA 1) as the next Washington basin to be adjudicated. You can read our full letter here.

CELP is now supporting funding in the legislature (SB 5092 / HB 1094) to start the adjudication process for the Nooksack River basin. Find more on this year’s remote legislative session and the bills we are tracking here.


CELP Summer Internship

We are now accepting applications for a Summer 2021 Legal Intern. This position is located in CELP’s Seattle Office. Due to the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, we anticipate that the intern will be working remotely for at least the first part and likely all of the summer.

We seek a legal intern with a demonstrated interest in environmental issues to work on projects aimed at establishing protected instream flows.  Qualified candidates will have completed their 2L year by Spring 2020 and taken an environmental law course.  Coursework or clinical experience in administrative law is preferred. Exact internship dates are flexible depending on academic schedules, but generally run from June – August and last 10 weeks. Please email a CV, a writing sample, and references to Dan Von Seggern, Staff Attorney  at dvonseggern@celp.org 

Deadline for applications is March 15th.


Cowlitz Indian Tribe, WSU-Vancouver co-host 7th conference on ethics, Columbia River future

A multi-year ethics consultation on the Columbia River Treaty facilitated by the Ethics & Treaty Project.

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Washington State University Vancouver’s Native American Affairs and Collective for Social and Environmental Justice are co-hosting the seventh annual Lower Columbia River, Estuary: “One River, Ethics Matter” conference. Attendees will draw on the ethical foundations provided by Indigenous cultural leaders and western religious leaders, as well as lessons from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, to advance justice and stewardship for the Columbia River in a time of climate change. 

“These discussions are going to be important as we transition to a new presidential administration and the Columbia River Treaty is renegotiated,” said Taylor Aalvik, director of the Natural Resources Department for Cowlitz Indian Tribe. “The United States treaty-negotiating team has excluded tribes in the past, and it will be necessary in the future that we are at the table during the negotiations.”

“One River, Ethics Matter” will cover the impact of COVID-19 and past epidemics on tribal communities; the impact of dams on the lower Columbia River and estuary; floodplain real estate for Portland/Vancouver including basin-wide impacts and the need for basin-wide flood risk review; and youth, climate change and the river.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10. It is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information and to register, visit celp.org/ethics-estuary/.

Speakers include:
  • Philip Harju, chairman, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • Mel Netzhammer, chancellor, WSU Vancouver
  • Tanna Engdahl, spiritual leader, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • John Osborn MD, Ethics and Treaty Project
  • The Rev. John Rosenberg
  • Mike Iyall, tribal historian, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • Christine Dupres, tribal historic preservation officer and Tribal Council member, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • Nathan Reynolds, director, Cultural Resources Department, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • The Rev. W. Thomas Soeldner
  • John Marsh, policy analyst, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • Jim Heffernan, policy analyst, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Sandra Luke, Chair for the Lands & Resources Sector, Ktunaxa Nation
  • Emma Johnson, tribal historic preservation assistant, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • Shay Way, fisheries biologist, Cowlitz descendant
  • Rosalie Fish, student, Cowlitz descendant
  • Taylor Aalvik, director, Natural Resources Department, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
  • Celia Delaney, mental health counselor, Cowlitz Tribe and Human Services
  • Pauline Terbasket, executive director, Okanagan Nation Alliance

About Cowlitz Indian Tribe

Cowlitz Indian Tribe is a sovereign nation located in Southwest Washington. The Tribe is a leader in the protection and restoration of Columbia River, Smelt, Salmon and habitat. Since time began, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe has been a knowledge holder and steward on the Columbia River, ensuring the generations to come can enjoy everything the Columbia River Basin has to offer.

About WSU Vancouver

As one of six campuses of the WSU system, WSU Vancouver offers big-school resources in a small-school environment. Both in person and online, the university provides affordable, high-quality baccalaureate- and graduate-level education to benefit the people and communities it serves. As the only four-year research university in Southwest Washington, WSU Vancouver helps drive economic growth through relationships with local businesses and industries, schools, and nonprofit organizations. 

MEDIA CONTACTS

WSU Vancouver: Brenda Alling, Office of Marketing and Communication, 360-546-9601, brenda_alling@wsu.edu

Cowlitz Indian Tribe: Tiffini Johnson, Natural Resources Department, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, 360-353-9509, tjohnson@cowlitz.org

Additional Links:


Washington Water Watch: November Edition

As the year approaches its end, we have all had to rethink how we do many things including work, school, birthdays and holidays. But that hasn’t stopped us from doing our work to protect and restore our river flows through outreach, policy work and litigation. Much of the year we have been working through the watershed planning process to come up with plans to mitigate impairment of instream flows from permit exempt wells. This process has taken 2 years, but hopefully it will have a positive impact on our rivers.

 But there is so much we need to do. Many rivers and streams around the state still lack basic protections, and endangered salmon and steelhead still face an uphill battle for recovery in part because of high river temperatures as a result of low flows. And climate change will continue to challenge how we manage our water resources.

 In this issue you’ll find an update on dam removals and proposals in the Northwest, information on our CLE Winter Workshop now being hosted as three virtual workshops, Water Stories, Giving Tuesday, and the 7th annual One River, Ethics Matter conference. 

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 $5,000. You can help us reach our goal and end the year strong by donating on our secure website, www.celp.org

Sincerely,

Trish Rolfe,

Executive Director

Read the full Newsletter here.


Giving Tuesday- Give Back to our Waters

Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity, is Dec. 1st. People all around the world are coming together to tap into the power of human connection and strengthen communities to change our world.

This Giving Tuesday, give back to our waters. Water connects us all and supports life.

I lean on water for therapy and healing, for recreation, to put groceries on my table, and to connect with other people — a particularly difficult challenge for me. Water indicates the health of our planet, or lack thereof. So if water does so much for us, what do we do for water? -Bridget Moran

With your support, CELP continues our work as Washington’s water watchdog protecting, preserving, and restoring waters across our state. We imagine a future with sustainable water supplies to support healthy ecosystems, thriving fish and wildlife, and robust communities. You can give to create that future now.

This year a generous supporter will match donations up to a $5,000 total. Help protect Washington’s waters.

Make a donation here.

We are incredibly grateful for our community, partners, supporters, volunteers, board and staff. This year, our work would not have been possible without everyone’s support and dedication to protecting our waters.
In the spirit of the giving season, we want to highlight some organizations who inspire us. We encourage you to support these places on Giving Tuesday to protect our environment and create a better future for Washington!

Save Our Wild Salmon 

Zero Waste Washington

Futurewise

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

RE Sources

Columbia RiverKeeper


Washington Water Watch: August Edition

Dear friends of CELP,

As the summer winds down in this crazy year, I hope you all got a chance to get out and recreate on Washington’s amazing rivers and streams, a great way to recharge from the stress we are all experiencing. These waters are the life blood of Washington that should be protected and celebrated by all. But sadly, there are many who only see our waterways as a resource to be exploited harming fish and the public who rely on them. The impacts from Climate Change are only making a dire situation even worse. 

That’s why CELP continues our important work to protect, preserve, and restore Washington’s waters now and for future generations. But we can’t do it alone. We rely heavily on support from individuals like you, so if you are able please support CELP’s important work by donating on our website: www.celp.org

In spite of our work, sometimes our efforts fail, and that happened with our challenge to the flawed summer flow in the Spokane River Instream Flow Rule. The State Supreme Court ruled against us, and now the people and businesses in Spokane are the real losers. The Department of Ecology can now issue water rights that will drop the flow in the river to drought levels during the summer, making recreation on the river almost impossible.

In this issue you will find more information on this State Supreme Court ruling, Governor Inslee’s letters pausing the proposed Chehalis River dam, a bio of Celebrate Water’s guest speaker, the American Water Resource Association’s state conference event, and more. 

I also want to send out a big thank you to all of our Celebrate Waters Sponsors. They play a huge role in helping us do our important work!

 Sincerely, 

Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

trolfe@celp.org

PS. Please tune into Celebrate Waters Virtual event on September 17th and stay safe!

Read the Full Newsletter: https://conta.cc/2EQvkQg


State Supreme Court ruling removes public, legislature voice from river flow decisions, gives Ecology total control

Decision harms recreational users and businesses statewide, devaluing recreation as a river use

For immediate release: August 7, 2020

Contact:

SPOKANE, Wash. – Today the State Supreme Court ruled against protecting flows in the Spokane River, rejecting arguments of river advocates, upholding the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology)’s drought-level flow rate decision. The decision subverts the will of the state legislature, granting total control over river flows in Washington state to Ecology and establishes a superficial role for public input the agency is free to ignore. Nothing in the court’s decision, however, prevents Ecology from restoring Spokane River flow rates to levels that will sustain and restore fish, support the recreation economy, and revive the river character of Spokane.

At the center of the conflict between river advocates and Washington state officials is whether water flowing in the Spokane River during hot summer months should be protected for community recreational and aesthetic use, river fish, and wildlife – or if Ecology should be allowed to take more water from the river by granting more water rights.

The State Supreme Court decision dooms the Spokane River to drought flows every summer. With such low flows set by the state, salmon will not return to the Spokane River.”

Trish Rolfe, executive director of the Center for Environmental Law & Policy.

In July 2019, the State Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Sierra Club, CELP and American Whitewater, holding that the Washington Department of Ecology failed to protect Spokane River flows as required by the Water Resources Act. Ecology appealed, and yesterday the State Supreme court ruled in the agency’s favor.

“We brought this case because we believed the law was clear: Ecology was required to protect the Spokane River to protect and when possible enhance wildlife, fish, scenic, aesthetic and other environmental values, while also protecting navigation. Despite this clear direction from the legislature, this ruling allows Ecology to pick and choose winners and losers, literally leaving some folks high and dry.”

Andrew Hawley, Staff Attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center

“This State Supreme Court ruling harms recreational users and businesses statewide by devaluing recreational use of rivers. In the interstate conflict between Idaho and Washington over water, the Evergreen State failed to protect water for Washingtonians.”

John Osborn, physician and Sierra Club’s Upper Columbia River Group conservation chair.

“The Spokane River is an incredible community resource for recreation and public enjoyment. We are disappointed that this week’s ruling sets the path toward lower flows, reduced river health, and fewer opportunities for recreational boaters. Despite today’s ruling that will make our work more challenging, we remain committed to continue our work to protect instream flows.“

Thomas O’Keefe, American Whitewater’s Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director.

Background:

Beloved and imperiled, the Spokane River flows through the second-largest city in Washington state, cascading over spectacular waterfalls and cutting a deep gorge. In most summers, enough water flows in the river to support fishing, river rafting, and other outdoor recreation. River advocates asked the court to hold the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to its duty to protect fish and wildlife, scenic, aesthetic and recreational values, and navigation, when establishing the minimum summer flows allowable for the Spokane River.

In setting instream flows, Ecology failed to account for boaters who use the Spokane River, fishermen who pursue the river’s wild redband trout, and businesses that depend on river-based recreation. Ecology also failed to conduct a basic assessment of the scenic values of the Spokane River as it flows through the gorge and Riverside State Park – important to users of the Centennial Trail and others.

Overall, Ecology ignored all public comments in support of protecting the Spokane River and adopted unchanged its flow rule of 850 cubic feet per second (CFS) – near-drought level river flows that will jeopardize the Spokane River and its public uses.

Need to protect recreational use of the Spokane River

In the proceedings, the foremost national experts on recreation and aesthetic flow concluded Ecology’s adopted flows are inadequate to support most types of recreational boating on the river.

Fish need water

Spokane River fisheries need cold, abundant water. Today, the State Supreme Court upheld Ecology’s “data-free” conclusion that 850 CFS is best for fish as justification of its decision not to protect higher Spokane River flows.

Issue experts concluded the state’s flow rule – setting the Spokane River flow rate below the Monroe Street Dam in the summer at 850 CFS – is inadequate to protect and restore a healthy redband trout population, and that the study prepared to support the State’s chosen river flow was flawed. Ecology could have accommodated the needs of other water users without sacrificing fish.

Protecting aesthetics in the city’s heart

“Our city owes its origins, its beauty, and a great deal of its past and present life to the Spokane River.  It would be a betrayal of the river and our identity if we did not maintain healthy and aesthetic river flows.”

– Tom Soeldner, Sierra Club’s Upper Columbia River Group based in Spokane

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