Washington Water Watch 
June 2015

In This Issue
Columbia River Treaty Updates
Meet Brady Johnson
Dungeness River Instream Flow Threatened
CELP in the News
Water News
Keep our rivers flowing!
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Upcoming Events
July 27-28 - Bruce Wishart, CELP's Government Affairs Specialist, will be speaking at the Law Seminars International Conference on Water Law in Washington. Learn more about the conference and how to register here.
Drought is Causing All-Time Record Low Stream Flows

Dear friend, 

Washington is experiencing a beautiful start to summer, but all this hot dry weather comes at a cost. What little snow pack we did have has now melted, and we begin the summer with little or no run off.  This is dramatically affecting the flow levels in our rivers and streams. 84 percent of Washington's rivers are flowing below normal levels; 66 percent of rivers are at flow levels typically experienced less than once a decade; and 27 percent of river flows are at all-time record lows. This has an impact not only on fish, but on Washington's economy. Recreational businesses that rely on stream flow for river rafting have had to cancel trips.  


Many people are framing the debate on how to deal with the drought as a farmers vs. fish scenario. CELP believes now is the time for Washington to re-evaluated how it manages our water resources, prioritizing sustainability and water conservation so that we can avoid the mistakes made by California, and make sure there is water available for both people and fish.


This issues profiles our new board member, Brady Johnson, discusses our intervention into a law suit filed that challenges the Dungeness Instream Flow Rule, updates our work on the Columbia River Treaty negotiations, highlights a petition to restore Moxlie Creek and more.


CELP works to protect drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, and the recreational use of our rivers, but we can only do this with the generous support from our loyal donors like you. If you haven't given to CELP in 2015, you can do so today by donating on our secure website, www.celp.org.  All donations to CELP are tax deductible. 


Best water wishes,




Trish Rolfe

Executive Director


Columbia River Treaty Updates

Columbia River Gorge - photo from Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
By John Osborn

During the past month, three major developments have occurred in our work to modernize the Columbia River Treaty (CRT).


In May the U.S. Department of State sent a letter to the NW Congressional delegation containing two long-awaited and important national decisions on the Columbia River Treaty: negotiations with Canada are a priority and will include adding ecosystem-based function to the Treaty governing the management of this international river.


Read more here.


On June 11 - one week prior to the release of the Encyclical Laudato Si'sixteen religious leaders sent a second request letter to Prime Minister Harper and President Obama asking for action on the Treaty.


Harper and Obama received an additional letter from national religious leaders representing the Anglican Church of Canada,  Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Episcopal Church. 

See News Release here.


CELP continues to encourage and support the involvement of religious leaders, faith community, and others who care about ethics and through our Ethics & Treaty Project.

Lower Columbia River, 
below Bonneville Dam - 
photo by John Roskelley

Meanwhile, the University Consortium on Columbia River Governance has released its report: A Sacred Responsibility - Governing the Use of Water and Related Resources in the International Columbia Basin through the Prism of Tribes and First Nations. 


The report is based on the 4th transboundary symposium held at in Polson, Montana, in October 2012 and convened by the University Consortium and involving tribal and First Nation leaders along with about 150 other people and organizations including CELP.


Read more here.


Taken together - the U.S. State Department letter, the letters from religious leaders to Prime Minister Harper and President Obama, and the report "A Sacred Responsibility" - the momentum is clearly building toward modernizing the Treaty in a way that promotes river stewardship and justice in a time of climate change.

Brady Johnson on top of the South Early Winter Spire in the North Cascades

Meet Brady Johnson - CELP's newest Board member


By Kelly Mistry


Brady Johnson is the son of CELP founder Ralph W. Johnson and has been a life-long supporter of a rational water policy.  Professionally Brady is retired from a long career litigating a wide variety of cases including criminal defense, civil rights, mental health and civil commitment, torts, class actions and for the last 15 years of his career, antitrust and consumer protection. 


We asked Brady some questions about how he became passionate about protecting Washington's waters, and his connection CELP:


What's your first memory of being aware of water conservation, or conservation in general?

My father taught water law among other things at the University of Washington School of Law. Even before that he was a conscientious conservationist and he instilled those values in his children. I do not recall a time when I was not aware of the value of water conservation, and of conserving and protecting our natural resources.


What do you find most challenging about protecting water in Washington?

The regressive allocation system that on the one hand creates reasonable sounding rules, then defeats them by creating massive exemptions. A further challenge is to get the State to recognize this incredibly obvious inconsistency and to persuade the agencies and legislature to actually fix it.


If you could change one thing about CELP, what would it be?

More resources to pursue its mission.


What do you wish other people knew about CELP or water conservation generally?

A common belief appears to be that water is an infinitely renewable resource and thus, we don't need to worry about it. I wish that people understood that this is a fallacy, and a very dangerous one because it leads to tremendous overuse and misallocation of the resource. Continuing this process over the long term will create numerous economic, social and political disruptions, all of which can be avoided if we act appropriately now.


Learn more about Brady here.

Instream Flow for the Dungeness River Threatened

By Dan Von Seggern

As part of CELP's mission to protect water in rivers and streams, CELP is intervening in a lawsuit that threatens the instream flow rule for the Dungeness River. The instream flow rule requires that a certain amount of water stays in the river for fish and other environmental values. A group of landowners and pro-development interests are asking that the rule be invalidated, and that the Department of Ecology provide water to build out the entire Sequim Valley.  This would devastate already-low river flows and salmon stocks.  Washington's current drought demonstrates the need to protect our river systems, and this case may have statewide impact.  As an intervener CELP will be able to effectively advocate for the river and its fish.

The river flows through largely rural areas from the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, just east of Port Angeles and in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains.  It is the only coastal Northwest watershed that is dry enough to require irrigation for agricultural crops. Demand for irrigation and domestic water has already reduced the stream flow below levels that are healthy for fish, including threatened salmon species.
In 2013, a new Department of Ecology rule established a protected instream flow. The rule's instream flow level was determined through a long process involving local governments and other stakeholders, and is based on scientific studies of fish habitat.

The rule also reserved a certain amount of water for domestic use. Plaintiffs in this suit argue that the rule should be invalidated because a recent Washington Supreme Court decision, Swinomish v. Ecology,  held that reservations of water in a different river system were invalid.  Because CELP believes that the rule is valid, and that it protects fish and other environmental values, we will fight to keep the rule in place and to block any changes that takes water away from the river.


As of June 29, the Dungeness River is at less than 1/3 its median flow for that date. For updates on the current flow level, visit the USGS website here.


To learn more about the current Dungeness Instream Flow Rule, click here.


To learn more about the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan, which the instream flow rule is based on, click here.


Documents - 

Petition For Rule Amendment


Department of Ecology's Response to the Petition for Rule Amendment


Petition for Declaratory Judgement

CELP in the News

By Rich Landers

The Inlander, June 5 - Taken to Task
By Jake Thomas

Water News

Restore Moxlie Creek


A petition has been started in Thurston County to restore Moxlie Creek, which flows into downtown Olympia. Currently, a half-mile long section of Moxlie Creek flows underground in a pipe to Budd Inlet at East Bay. Marine life dies in the pipe due to the continual darkness, turning what should be a highly productive water body into a slurry of degraded, polluted water. 

This petition instructs our leaders to address this neglected condition with a group of citizens and elected officials joining together to investigate, study and make recommendations as to how to remedy the Moxlie Creek and estuary.


To sign the petition, click here.

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.