Washington Water Watch 
May 2015

In This Issue
Thanks to Everyone who came to Celebrate Water!
EPA Finalizes Clean Water Rule
Litigation Update
Earth Economics Outdoor Recreation in WA 2015 Report
CELP in the News
Keep our rivers flowing!
Help ensure clean and flowing waters in Washington State by making a gift to CELP!

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Upcoming Events
June 13 - Rachael Osborn will join League of Women Voters of Washington moderator Raelene Gold and Kelsey Collins, Statewide Trust Water Coordinator for the Department of Ecology to discuss "Water Issues in Central and Eastern Washington" at the LWV-WA state convention in Yakima. For more details and to register for the convention, click here.

July 27-28 - Bruce Wishart, CELP's Government Affairs Specialist, will be speaking at Law Seminars International Conference on Water Law in Washington. Learn more about the conference and how to register here.

More Photos from Celebrate Water:

Photo by Jon Anscher Photography

Rachael Paschal Osborn - Photo by Jon Anscher Photography

D.R. Michel and Matt Wynne, representing UCUT - Photo by Jon Anscher Photography
Thank you for Celebrating Water with CELP 

Dear friend, 

CELP board members present award to UCUT representatives - Photo by Jon Anscher Photography

CELP held its annual fundraising event, Celebrate Water, last week, and it was a great success. Congratulations to the Upper Columbia United Tribes for receiving the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award! And a big Thank you to everyone that attended, our sponsors, our board and all the volunteers who helped us reach our goal!


Also this month Governor Inslee declared a statewide snowpack drought, and it is unlike anything we have seen before. Rainfall levels have been normal, but snowpack is at record low. Impacts are already being felt around the state, and the Department of Ecology is seeking $9.6 million from the Legislature to deal with it. CELP will monitor the Department of Ecology, making sure their drought response protects instream flows and fish.


The Legislature looks like it will be going into a 2nd Special Session to deal with the state's budget, and CELP will continue to be vigilant in making sure bad water bills don't come back into play. But we can't do this without support from our members.

This month you'll find articles announcing a new EPA Clean Water Rule, reviewing a state report on the economic benefits of outdoor recreation, a litigation update, highlights of Celebrate Water and more.


We are working tirelessly to protect drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, and the recreational use of our rivers. We can do this because of the continued support from our loyal member like you. If you haven't renewed your membership for 2015, do it today by donating on our secure website, www.celp.org.


Best water wishes,




Trish Rolfe

Executive Director


Thanks to Everyone Who Came to Celebrate Water on May 21!
Jean Melious, presenting to CLE audience. Photo by Jon Anscher Photography

Celebrate Water was a huge success, thanks to our sponsors and all who attended! Thanks to our CLE presenters, Jean Melious and Patrick Williams, who educated us on current Supreme Court cases concerning Water Rights, Land Use, and Instream Flows. We also heard presentations from Rachael Paschal Osborn about the Columbia River Treaty, and from Adam Wicks-Arshack about his organization, Voyages of Rediscovery, and their work facilitating educational expeditions on the Columbia River. They have published a video, Treaty Talks, about their expedition up the Columbia River from the sea to the source in Canada. 

We had the pleasure of honoring the Upper Columbia United Tribes

with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award in recognition of their efforts towards restoring salmon and the Columbia River. By honoring UCUT, this award also recognizes and honors all 15 Tribes and 17 First Nations of the Columbia Basin for their leadership towards these goals in the United States and Canada respectively.

Thank you to our many sponsors for their support, including: Bob Anderson & Marilyn Heiman, the Columbia Institute for Water Policy, UW School of Law - Native American Law Center, Carnegie Group of Thurston County, South Sound Group Sierra Club, Voyages of Rediscovery, Family of Ralph Johnson, Adidas Outdoor, Northwest Swan Conservation Cooperative, Ted Knight, Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Shannon Work, Howard Funke, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Fran & Bunny Wood, and the  League of Women Voters of Washington. 


For more photos, visit our blog here.

EPA Finalizes Clean Water Rule to Protect Our Streams and Wetlands


By Dan Von Seggern


CELP applauds the new Clean Water Rule that better protects rivers, streams, and wetlands.  On Wednesday, May 27, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army finalized an important new rule protecting the foundation of our nation's water supply. Almost a third of Americans depend on streams covered by the rule for drinking water, and millions more use our streams and rivers for recreation. Wetlands also play a critical role in many ecosystems, by providing habitat for many species, controlling flooding, and helping to filter pollutants out of the water. As climate change affects our water supply, it is more important than ever to protect the resources that we have. The Clean Water Rule will help to ensure clean and safe water for drinking, recreation, and the environment. 


The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the most important set of laws protecting the nation's waters from pollution. It applies to navigable waters and to waterways that connect to them.  Because pollution in even very small streams or wetlands makes its way downstream to larger bodies of water, it is important to ensure that these waterways are protected. Several recent Supreme Court decisions had led to confusion about how the CWA applied to approximately 60 percent of the nation's waters. Polluters were often able to evade the CWA's ban on contaminating clean water or damaging wetlands by arguing that the waters in question were not protected under the law. This often required costly litigation and delayed taking action to stop pollution. 


The new Clean Water Rule provides simple, clear tests to determine whether a stream or wetland is protected by the CWA and will help to avoid delay and uncertainty in preventing pollution or degradation of these waterways. It also clarifies that unique wetlands such as prairie potholes and vernal pools may be protected as part of their local ecosystems. 


For more information, see the EPA's Clean Water Rule webpage here. 

The Rule itself can be found here.

Litigation Updates

Enloe Water Right Decision
CELP has appealed the Enloe water right decision to Division 2 of the Court of Appeals. Issues include Ecology's deferral of the "public interest test" for a water right and the need for consistency between water right and Clean Water Act 401 Certification conditions. 

Whatcom County v. Hirst
Both CELP and the Squaxin Island Tribe filed amicus briefs asking the Supreme Court to accept review of Division 1's decision in Whatcom County v. Hirst. The case involves the critical need for local governments to protect water resources while implementing Growth Management Act planning, zoning and permits.

Cornelius v. Washington State University
CELP learned this month of the Supreme Court's denial of reconsideration in the matter of Cornelius v. Washington State University. The Cornelius plaintiffs sought to enforce Ecology's duties to prevent depletion of groundwater in the Palouse Basin, but the Court rejected all arguments. CELP filed an amicus brief with 10 conservation groups urging the Court to enforce Washington's "safe sustaining yield" statute (which it did not do). See Julie Titone's guest opinion in Crosscut (referenced below) for more information about the decline of the sole-source Grande Ronde Aquifer, which serves 50,000 people in the Pullman-Moscow region.

Spokane PCB Clean up Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Ecology recently appealed a U.S. District Court ruling that EPA must prepare a PCB cleanup plan for the Spokane River. CELP, Sierra Club and the Spokane Tribe are plaintiffs.  Despite the appeal, EPA appears to be on track to submit a plan to the Court for adoption of the TMDL. The case presents important issues concerning implementation of fish consumption-based water quality standards.

Earth Economics Outdoor Recreation in WA Report, 2015


By Kelly Mistry

This study, published by Earth Economics in January of 2015, quantifies the contribution of outdoor recreation to Washington State's economy and way of life, including recreation supported by our public waters.


Oddly, the value of the recreation economy, and the land and seascapes that produce it, have often been underestimated in economic analysis. Perhaps this is because it is so closely tied to life enjoyment. It is estimated that Washingtonians, on average, spend 56 days a year recreating outdoors. According to the recreation surveys and public land records used in this study, there were a total of about 446 million participant days a year spent on outdoor recreation in Washington, resulting in $21.6 billion dollars in annual expenditures.


Expenditures were highest for recreation associated with public waters. Water recreation includes a number of activities with high trip and equipment expenditures, especially motorized boating. Public waters include marine areas, rivers, lakes and streams, which are all categorized as public, although a portion of these may be private. Public waters make up 12% of public recreational lands in WA, based on acreage.


This report also shows that outdoor recreation markets play an important role bridging urban and rural communities. The recreation market is unquestionably one of the largest markets in the state for moving income from urban to rural areas and building sustainable jobs in rural Washington State. Out-of-county visitors create a redistribution of wealth between the place of origin and the destination for recreation. For example, Seattle residents going to Leavenworth for outdoor recreation redistributes income from Seattle to Leavenworth. These dynamics are important to many rural counties.


Part of CELP's mission is to preserve Washington's waters for recreational use, and this report helps to showcase the significant contributions that water recreation makes to our state, county and local economies. In addition to the ways in which water recreation enriches all of our lives, quantifying its economic contributions is a powerful tool in the fight to protect Washington's waters.


Read the Report here 

CELP in the News 


The Wenatchee World, April 27:  Alpine Lakes dam offered as part of longterm water solution

By K.C. Mehaffey

Note: This article requires a subscription to read in full.  


The Spokesman Review, May 9: Guest Opinion: Polluters need to clean up their act

by Rachael Paschal Osborn


Indian Country Today, May 21: Pacific Northwest Tribes and First Nations Honored for Salmon Restoration on Columbia River

By ICTMN Staff


Crosscut, May 22:  Guest Opinion: WSU should drive smarter Palouse water actions 

by Julie Titone 

Thanks for taking the time to read Washington Water Watch!  Thanks to your help, CELP has accomplished much but, as you can see, more needs to be done. You can support our work by making a donation online here, or mailing a check to 911 Western Ave #305, Seattle, WA 98104 

CELP's mission is to protect and restore Washington's rivers and aquifers through science-based management of and advocacy for our waters.  CELP works through public education, grassroots assistance, agency advocacy, legislative reform, and public interest litigation.


If you care about a future with water, please become a CELP member today!

You can reach us at: 206-829-8299 or email us.