Washington Water Watch 
March 2016

In This Issue
Takeaways from the Legislative Session
Spokane River Petition
Water Report
Thanks for Attending Winter Waters!
Save the Date
Take the Earth Day Challenge!
Keep Our Rivers Flowing!
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Upcoming Events
April 20
Hosted by Washington Water Trust, this year's festival will be held in Seattle at SIFF Cinema Uptown at 5:30 pm.
May 3 is Give BIG!
Support CELP on May 3rd, our community's biggest day of giving of the year. Learn more here.

June 8
Celebrate Water
Ivar's Salmon House 
Join CELP staff, board and supporters to celebrate CELP's accomplishments and honor Professor William H. Rodgers with the Ralph Johnson Water Hero Award.
Spring has Sprung!

Dear Friends of CELP,

Spring is here, and with it the end to a very wet winter. This year's snowpack is in good shape, but we cannot forget about last year's drought and its devastating impact on our rivers and streams. Climate change predictions are that we will see a lot more winters like last year, and we need to act now to prepare for more winters where precipitation falls as rain instead of snow, resulting in low stream flows when fish need water most. That's why CELP fights for better management of Washington's water resources. 

The Black River - WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
We continue to work in Olympia, fighting new legislation that could take water out of our rivers and streams, and advocating for more sustainable management of Washington's water resources for both people and fish. 

CELP also continues to fight for water resource protections in court. Most recently in a victory for protection of Washington's rivers and streams, the Washington Supreme Court denied reconsideration of its Foster v. Ecology decision. The one page Order, issued without comment, means that Foster's ruling, barring the use of the overriding consideration of the public interest exception to allow appropriations of water that impair instream flows will stand. 

Foster also held that other, out-of-kind environmental improvements cannot compensate for the loss of water in-stream will remain in place. This again emphasizes the Court's view that instream flows are to be given meaningful protection, as stated in both Foster and the Court's earlier Swinomish decision. 

In this issue, you'll find an article on the takeaways for water resource issues from the legislative session, our petition for higher water flows on the Spokane River, an article by CELP Staff Attorney Dan Von Seggern on protecting instream resources in Washington, and more.
CELP continues to work tirelessly to protect Washington's freshwater resources and ensure wise and sustainable water management for future generations. We thank you for your dedicated support of our mission.

Best water wishes, 
The Wenatchee River on a beautiful March day

Trish Rolfe
Executive Director

P.S. If you're not a member of CELP yet, please become one today by donating on our website!

Water in the Legislature - Takeaways
By Trish Rolfe

The 2016 Legislative Session has come to a close, and water resource issues were again a top priority. CELP successfully fended off several dangerous water bills including the bad Skagit River Bills from last year, and worked with our allies to pass a few bills that we amended. These bills are:
SB 6179 - Water Banking. This bill added transparency in the practice of Water Banking. CELP supported an amendment to add language that water supplies for water banking must be adequate and reliable, but we could not find agreement on the language so in the end we agreed to just the transparency language.
SB 6589 - Water storage/exempt wells study. This bill authorizes a study that would examine options for storage projects to mitigate development in Skagit basin. CELP supported amendments to this bill that would include Tribes in any agreement on how the study is conducted.

Skagit River Delta - photo by Frank James

The water conservation/low volume plumbing bill, HB 2430 died in the Senate. We will keep working on this issue to help everyone conserve water.

The Municipal water rights bill, SB 6215, that would have allowed water purveyors to acquire agricultural water rights and then automatically convert them to "municipal" water rights without any review by Department of Ecology to determine whether the original agricultural right was still valid, died in the House. This bill would have allowed municipal water purveyors to draw a great deal of water from rivers and streams, harming instream flows and salmon as well as senior water right holders.
Water resource issues are contentious issues in the Legislature, and CELP would like to thank those members who have voted to protect Washington's water. Special thanks go out to Representatives Derek Stanford and Kris Lytton, and Senators John McCoy and Jim Hargrove. 
Spokane River
Spokane River Advocates petition State for Higher Summertime Water Flow

by John Osborn

Advocates for the Spokane River have petitioned the Washington Department of Ecology ("Ecology") to increase its flow rule for the popular and heavily-used Spokane River.  The Spokane River is a much beloved urban river that flows through the second largest city in Washington State, including spectacular waterfalls and a deep gorge. Conservationists are seeking a minimum summertime flow of 1,800 - 2800 cubic feet per second (CFS) to support fisheries and recreation, and protect higher flows for recreation when available.
"We are asking Washington state to 'go with the flow,' amend its inadequate flow rule, and protect the people's river," said John Roskelley, kayaker, author, and vice president of the Center for Environmental Law & Policy. "Last summer the whole community lived through drought and witnessed the Spokane River reduced to a trickle amid boulder fields. The state has a trust responsibility for our river, and must do its job."
Spokane River - photo by John Osborn
Nearly 2,000 comments, including boater surveys and aesthetic inventories, were submitted to the Department of Ecology during the public-comment period on the draft rule. The state agency ignored all public comments in support of protecting the Spokane River, and adopted unchanged its flow rule of 850 CFS - river flows that are low and jeopardize the Spokane River and public uses.

Living Within Our Water Means - Protecting Instream Resources in Washington
Published in The Water Report

by Dan Von Seggern

Washington's rivers, and the fish and wildlife they support, are under great pressure due to increasing demand for water. The state's water has been diverted for beneficial use out-of-stream for well over 100 years, and now supports productive agriculture, thriving industries, and a growing population. But there are limits to the resource and choices regarding water use must be made. Reduced streamflows are impacting salmon and steelhead runs, implicating both endangered species protections and treaty obligations to Native American tribes. In some cases, the amount of water claimed for out-of-stream uses exceeds the ordinary flow of the river. Because of this history of over-appropriation, in some areas more water cannot be taken out of the system without unacceptable impacts on fish, wildlife and other environmental values. If this means that water is not readily available for development, it is no accident; rather, it is evidence that we have reached a limit to what can be sustainably extracted.

Climate change will add to our water supply difficulties. As the atmosphere warms, more precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow and less water will be stored in the mountain snowpack. Receding glaciers will contribute less water to streams and rivers. Peak streamflows will occur earlier in spring than they do now, water temperatures will be higher, and rivers will be drier in summer. Low summer flows will reduce the water supply available for irrigation and put additional pressure on the fish and wildlife that depend on
water instream. 

Read the full article here.
Thanks for Attending Winter Waters!
Honoring Bishop Skylstad and the Pastoral Letter team

 A huge thank you to everyone who attended CELP and Sierra Club's Winter Waters event in Spokane on March 4th! We heard from UCUT representative Keith Kutchins, honored Bishop Skylstad and the Columbia River Pastoral Letter team, and raised over $4,000 for CELP and Sierra Club Upper Columbia River Group. View the complete album of pictures from the event on our Facebook page. Many thanks to Marc Schillios for the beautiful photos!

Save the Date
Celebrate Water
June 8th, 2016

The date for Celebrate Water is set! Join us on June 8th to celebrate CELP's successes in the past year and present Professor William H. Rodgers with the Ralph Johnson Award for his contributions to water resource issues and achievements in water law and policy. 
Meet CELP staff, board and supporters as we come together in support of 
Washington's waterways over dinner, drinks, and a beautiful view of Lake Union!

In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, Earthshare Washington is raising funds for 21 local environmental organizations through the Earth Day Challenge. Participating CELP supporters can designate their gifts towards the Center for Environmental Law & Policy or any of the other organizations on the list. Undesignated contributions are split between participating organizations, while 100% of designated contributions go to the organization you designate! Your contribution to CELP will support our education, advocacy, and litigation efforts in 2016. 

From April 1-22 help raise money for CELP by donating through the EarthDayChallenge website, and designating the Center for Environmental Law & Policy as your selected non-profit! 

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: 

85 S Washington St #301, Seattle, WA 98104 

The Center for Environmental Law & Policy is a statewide organization whose mission is to protect, preserve and restore Washington's waters through education, policy reform, agency advocacy, 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.