Washington Water Watch 
September 2015

In This Issue
Portland Conference on Columbia River Treaty
CELP Files Legal Action Against Leavenworth Hatchery
Update on H2KNOW
Ecology Releases Draft Reclaimed Water Rule
CELP in the News
Keep Our Rivers Flowing!
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Upcoming Events
Wednesday, 10/7 - 6:30-8:30 Public Discussion of Vital Water Issues in Issaquah, at Pickering Barn, IssaquahJoin staff and friends of CELP for an informative discussion of water issues, drought, climate change and Water Law in Washington State.  

Learn about successful legal actions to protect the rivers and aquifers of Washington State and the challenges ahead.  

Friday, 10/9 - 5 - 7 pm.
Remember the Spokane River - Join us for a benefit to help our Spokane River and expand the work of the H2KNOW campaign. We'll gather at the new 
 Spark Center in Kendall Yards. To learn more, click here.

Thursday, 10/15
 - 5:30 - 7:30. South Sound Waters - A fundraiser for CELP. Join staff, board and volunteers at the Old Steam Plant for conversation, drinks and appetizers. Limited availability - please RSVP here to attend.

Friday, 12/3 - time TBD. CELP Annual CLE on Water Law & the Public Trust. Join us at the 2100 building for a full day of Continuing Legal Education about water law. 
Washington's Drought Will Likely Continue into 2016

Dear friend, 
Dry Orchards in Benton County - 
Photo from WA Dept of Ecology

As we head into fall we are experiencing more typical Western Washington weather, but Washington's drought is likely to continue into next year. Climate models are predicting changes to historic weather patterns that could have far reaching impacts for fish and for our economy. Water scarcity is becoming one of the biggest climate change issues in Washington State.

We can all do our part by continuing to conserve water, but we need to be looking at ways to better manage Washington's water resources. Thanks to the support of our members, CELP is here to raise public awareness about water scarcity issues, persuade the Department of Ecology to adopt sustainable water policies and include climate change impacts in all their water policy decisions, and advocate for sustainable water policy in the state legislature.

Our recent work is reflected in this issue were you'll find an article on our recent legal action to stop pollution from the Leavenworth Hatchery, Ecology's new Reclaimed Water Rule, an update on our H2KNOW campaign, and information about a conference we are sponsoring about modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, "One River. Ethics Matter". You will also find information about CELP's upcoming events.

CELP continues to work tirelessly to protect Washington's freshwater resources and ensure wise and sustainable water management for future generations, but we can't do it alone. We rely on donations from our loyal supporters like you to be able to respond to threats like this year's drought. Please consider making a donation today on our secure website,  www.celp.org.

Best water wishes,


Trish Rolfe
Executive Director

PS. CELP's Seattle office has moved. We are now in the heart of historic Pioneer Square at 85 S Washington St #301. Stop by if you're in the area!

One River. Ethics Matter. 
Portland Conference on the Columbia River Treaty on 10/24

By John Osborn

One month after Pope Francis spoke to Congress, we invite you to join us at the University of Portland's Buckley Center Auditorium. On Saturday, October 24 from 8 am - 4 pm, we will host a discussion about ethics and the future of the Columbia River. This event is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided.

"One River, Ethics Matter" is a conference series exploring the moral dimensions of the impacts of the dam-building era in the 1900s with a focus on tribes, First Nations and the river itself. Gonzaga University hosted the first conference where the Declaration on Ethics & Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty was created and signed by religious and indigenous leaders and many others. 

Please join us for the second of these conferences with a focus on flood-risk management, climate change, justice, and stewardship. We'll explore measures to correct historic injustice -including less environmentally damaging options to protect Portland from floods and restoring salmon to ancestral spawning grounds. Support is growing to expand the treaty's original purposes (flood risk management and hydropower) by adding a third purpose: "ecosystem function" to restore health to the Columbia River, including the return of salmon to ancestral spawning waters.

The Portland conference will open with Bishop William Skylstad, the force behind the Columbia River Pastoral Letter, and Leotis McCormack (Nez Perce Tribe and Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission) speaking on indigenous people, salmon, and the river. Other speakers will include Virgil Seymour who will describe the fate of the Sinixt Nation located in the Upper Columbia and declared "extinct" by Canada in 1956 during Treaty negotiations with the United States.  Crystal Spicer will describe the valiant effort by her father to save their family home and farm while 2,300 people were forced by the B.C. government to relocate. The conference will conclude with a discussion of the current opportunities to modernize the Columbia River Treaty that governs management of the River, while underscoring the need to revisit flood risk management.

International water conflicts are a growing global risk in the face of climate change.  "One River, Ethics Matter" intends to use the Columbia River Pastoral Letter and the tools used by hospital ethics committees to help establish a water ethic as foundational for international decisions on water.

Please RSVP by October 16th!

RSVP contact:  Belgin Inan 
Email him at inanb@up.edu or Call 503.943.8342

Icicle Creek -
Photo by John Osborn
CELP and Wild Fish Conservancy File Legal Action to Clean Up Pollution from Leavenworth Hatchery

by John Osborn

On Tuesday, September 29th, CELP and the Wild Fish Conservancy announced they filed legal action  to compel the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to clean-up the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery now polluting Icicle Creek.

FWS discharges a wide variety of pollutants into Icicle Creek from the federal hatchery located near Leavenworth, Washington, without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. An NPDES permit is required by the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and would place limits on pollutant discharges. The Hatchery's permit expired in 1979, and for the past thirty-six years FWS has operated the hatchery in violation of the CWA. Despite repeated requests over many years to update the Hatchery's operations, including a 60-day notice filed in July, federal officials have continued to operate the facility without obtaining a new permit.

Pollutants released from the Hatchery to Icicle Creek include disease control chemicals, pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, antibiotics, chemicals used for disinfection and other fish culture purposes, residual chemical reagents, salts, and chlorinated water. The excess phosphorus discharged by the Hatchery has caused violations of the applicable water quality criterion for pH in lower Icicle Creek. This phosphorus loading also contributes to violations of water quality standards in the Wenatchee River.

"The Clean Water Act is the main mechanism through which pollution of our waters is prevented, and the Hatchery is obligated to apply for a permit and to operate according to its conditions," said Dan Von Seggern, staff attorney for CELP. "Filing a lawsuit is a last resort. However, a great deal of effort by many groups and individuals to get the Hatchery to obey the law has been unsuccessful. This litigation is aimed at ensuring that the federal agency carries out its work to augment salmon runs without harming Icicle Creek."

Update on H2KNOW Campaign:
Novel Citizens-Led Effort to Use Water Wisely

by John Osborn
Question: What are citizens to do when city, county, and state governments drop the ball on public education about the need to conserve water during drought?  
One of the billboards put up around Spokane to help spread the word

Drought and heat are taking a toll. Rivers and stream are extremely low. We've seen disruptions in salmon runs, including die-offs. What can we do?  Responding to this unfolding threat to our waters, CELP teamed up with the Sierra Club and the Columbia Institute for Water Policy to launch a Spokane-based public education campaign to reduce water use: H2KNOW - our river is low!
The H2KNOW campaign began on August 1st, and and received major media attention, including front-page coverage in the Spokesman Review and extensive stories in all three Spokane-based TV stations.
Building on the intense media interest,  H2KNOW and the City of Spokane issued a joint statement asking residents to reduce water use by 10-20 percent. With a history of minimal visibility in public education on water conservation in Washington State, including the City of Spokane, this was an important step in a longer journey towards wise use of water to protect the Spokane River.
Much of the H2KNOW media provided the public with information about the springs flowing out of hillsides and into the Spokane River. This water, flowing from Lake Pend Oreille, Mt Spokane and other sources, travels underground in an aquifer that feeds the Spokane River system. Massive municipal wells intercept aquifer water that would otherwise flow to the river.
On September 24, Spokane Public Radio hosted a forum:  Our Water, Our Future. CELP was represented on a panel that also included representatives from state, county, and city governments. The forum will be rebroadcast on radio and television.
"When we pump our aquifer, we rob our river," said John Roskelley, former Spokane County commissioner and a member of the CELP Board. "The Spokane River is what our quality of life is all about. This is not just about today or tomorrow, but about this community's future."
Tom Soeldner, co-chair of the Sierra Club's Upper Columbia River Group, appealed to Spokane-area residents. "Think about the plight of the Spokane River every time you turn on a water faucet, or pick up a hose. Do you really need to use that water?"
Visit www.H2KNOW.info for tips on how to conserve water. 

For more information, contact John Osborn

Photo from Dept of Ecology
Dept of Ecology Releases Draft Reclaimed Water Rule
By Dan Von Seggern

CELP recently submitted comments on the Department of Ecology's Draft Reclaimed Water Rule. Ecology proposed this Rule to regulate use of reclaimed water in the state. CELP strongly believes that reclamation can be part of the solution to Washington's water issues, and supports use of reclaimed water in general. However, CELP does have some significant concerns, as reflected in the comments.

Under Washington law, "reclaimed water" means water derived in any part from wastewater with a domestic wastewater component that has been adequately and reliably treated, so that it can be used for beneficial purposes. In practice, this will most likely be water reclaimed from municipal water treatment systems. Reclaimed water would be used for purposes including fire hydrants, flushing toilets, and recharge of groundwater. The Rule covers only non-potable water, and does not deal with using reclaimed water for drinking purposes.

The draft Rule would govern design, construction and operation of water reclamation facilities, and the distribution system for the water produced. A reclaimer would have to provide information showing that the water produced would be of adequate quality for the uses proposed.
Before a permit for use of reclaimed water could be issued, a study would be required to verify that use of the reclaimed water would not interfere with downstream water rights. This is because by reclaiming wastewater rather than discharging the treated water into a stream, the overall streamflow downstream from a reclamation plant could be reduced. While CELP believes that impairment analysis is essential, we are concerned that the Rule's language might not be fully protective of streamflows and commented on this point.

Where the reclaimed water would be used for streamflow augmentation, CELP emphasized that such augmentation must not jeopardize water quality or tribal fishing rights. On this issue, CELP suggested that all plans for streamflow augmentation be reviewed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and that the Rule have provisions allowing it to be modified to reflect any new science.

CELP also expressed its support for use of reclaimed water to recharge groundwater,
again stressing that water quality must be protected. 
CELP in the News
  • 9/24, Spokane Public Radio's public forum:  Our Water, Our Future.  Held at Spokane City Council chambers. Water topics included many pressing issues of water scarcity and water quality for the City of Spokane and more broadly for eastern Washington. Steve Jackson, veteran public radio reporter, moderated the evening's discussion. The forum was televised and will be rebroadcast in the Inland Northwest by Spokane Public Radio (KPBX). For the times of the rebroadcasts, click here.
    • The panelists were:
      • Rachael Paschal Osborn, Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Senior Policy Adviser
      • Guy Gregory, Washington Dept. of Ecology Water Resources Program
      • Rob Lindsay, Spokane County Water Resources Manager
      • Rick Romero, City of Spokane Utilities Director
      • Jon Snyder, Spokane City Councilman

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.