Monday, May 22, 2006

Department of Ecology and Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association Enter into A Voluntary Agreement for New Water Use

The Draft Agreement
"CSRIA and Ecology are hereby engaging in a voluntary regional agreement (VRA), as authorized under ESSHB 2860 (Columbia River Bill) (Chapter xx, Session Laws of 2006). This VRA is intended to result in the approval of new water use on the Columbia River and Lower Snake River (at or below the Ice Harbor Pool) by the State of Washington. Consistent with the legislation enacted during the 2006 Legislative Session, new water uses resulting from the issuance of permits under this agreement shall not reduce streamflows in the Columbia River mainstem or on the Snake River mainstem during the critical periods established by the legislature. To meet this standard of protection, Ecology and CSRIA will pursue water conservation and other measures in a quantity sufficient to fully offset any new water uses in the months of July and August approved by the state for CSRIA members under this agreement." ... snip ....

Monday, May 15, 2006

More on the Umatilla Proposal for Columbia River Money

Yakima Herald Republic Online
"So why ask for Washington money to pay part of an Oregon project? "The answer is found in its projected impact on the Walla Walla River Basin. Enhanced flows resulting from the Umatilla's project will allow more water to stay in the Walla Walla River, according to, Kevin Scribner, interim executive director of the Walla Walla Watershed Alliance. Enhanced flows in the basin benefit both sides of the border, he added. "That's similar in concept to a proposed new Black Rack reservoir, 40 miles east of Yakima. If that facility is built, it would draw water from the Columbia River, allowing more water to stay in the Yakima River to enhance flows. "Two things are especially noteworthy about this initial request from the new program: It is a two-state project and it involves Indian tribes with treaty rights, which is critical to meaningful dialogue about water projects. "State officials will hold a series of four public meetings in Wenatchee on May 17, Colville on May 18, Moses Lake on May 22 and Kennewick on May 23. Discussion will center on how to implement the Columbia River management plan. "In the meantime, we take note of the fact that the Umatilla tribes have quickly moved to the head of the line with a project that bodes well for the Walla Walla basin, which has made admirable gains in flow restoration in recent years. And in so doing, they have provided the kind of collaboration and cooperation that should serve as a model for other equally worthwhile projects -- such as Black Rock, which would benefit the water-starved Yakima River Basin. * Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Michael Shepard, Sarah Jenkins and Bill Lee."

Snohomish County Favors Farmers in Proposed Critical Area Ordinances

HeraldNet: By Jeff Switzer Herald Writer
"'We don't want to inhibit or interrupt the progress we're making for recovery of farming in Snohomish County,' county planning director Craig Ladiser said. The County Council and Planning Commission debated the rules this week. 'In its present form, this is the most farmer-friendly critical areas ordinance of all,' said Max Albert, a former Agricultural Board member who helped come up with the proposed rules. Most of the county's farmland is in environmentally sensitive flood plains, Albert said. 'This ordinance let's you go on farming it.' That's good news, said crop farmer Joe Heineck, who has 90 acres straddling Weiser Creek in Everett. He was worried that bigger protective buffers proposed for the salmon creek would 'take a huge swath of productive farmland out of production.' The state requires the regulations to be updated every seven years. The update was due Dec. 1. Missing the deadline means the county could face state penalties."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ecology to Prepare EIS for the Columbia River Management Program: Scoping Sessions Announced

From the Department of Ecology:
OLYMPIA - The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) is hosting four open houses in May to receive public input on how to implement the Columbia River water management legislation passed this year. House Bill 2860 directs Ecology to lead an effort to improve water management practices on the Columbia River. The workshops are part of an initial scoping process that will result in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Columbia River Water Management Program. Interested agencies, tribes and the public will have the opportunity to comment on issues they would like to see focused on in the EIS. Scoping comments will be accepted through June 5, 2006. Staff from Ecology as well as outside facilitators will be available at the open houses to answer questions and share insight on the implementation of the bill. The open houses will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at these locations: * May 17 - Wenatchee Wenatchee Convention Center (The Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel), Gala Room, 201 N. Wenatchee Ave. * May 18 - Colville Agricultural Trade Center, 317 W. Astor * May 22 - Moses Lake Fire Department Multi-Purpose Room, 701 E. Third Ave. * May 23 - Kennewick Three Rivers Convention Center, Meeting Room C, 7016 W. Grandridge Blvd. Topics to be addressed include: * Developing a way to deliver Columbia Basin Project water to lands in the Odessa Ground Water Management Subarea (Odessa Subarea)currently served by local ground water. * Creating a secondary route for delivering water to the Potholes Reservoir from Pinto Dam to help ensure reliability of water supply. * Evaluating the feasibility of new off-channel storage facilities to augment supplies of water for instream and out-of-stream use in the Columbia River Basin. * Continuing efforts to secure water from additional drawdown of Lake Roosevelt, including work with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation to identify and implement appropriate mitigation. * Conducting water conservation projects in cooperation with the Washington Conservation Commission, conservation districts, irrigation districts, and other local partners. * Creating a water resources information system for the Columbia River to support effective mainstem water resource planning and management; * Administering a program for entering into voluntary regional agreements to provide new water for out-of-stream use, streamlining permitting processes, and protecting instream flows. Comments may be directed to Derek Sandison, Dept. of Ecology, 15 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 200, Yakima, WA 98902; or by email to: Media contact: Joye Redfield-Wilder (509) 575-2610 or Nelsa Brodie (360) 407-7139"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Public Hearing on Air Permit for Port Townsend Paper Corp.

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 4, 2006 06-080 Public invited to meeting May 31 about Port Townsend Paper air permit OLYMPIA - The Department of Ecology (Ecology) invites the public to attend a workshop and public hearing about Port Townsend Paper Corp.'s air operating permit renewal. The workshop will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, at the Commons of Port Townsend High School. A public hearing on the permit will follow at 8 p.m. The workshop provides an opportunity for people to talk informally with Ecology staff. The public hearing gives people an opportunity speak on the record to Ecology about the company's permit renewal. Ecology has extended the public comment period on the permit until 5 p.m. June 7. The public may access the draft permit and support document from Ecology's Web site at A printed copy of the documents can be found at the reference desk of the Port Townsend Library at 1220 Lawrence St. The public may provide comments orally at the public hearing or in writing. Written comments can be sent to Robert Carruthers, P.E., Department of Ecology, Industrial Section, P.O. Box 47706, Olympia, WA 98504-7600. Or written comments can be sent to Carruther's e-mail address, For questions or to request special accommodations at the workshop and hearing, contact Dolores Mitchell at 360-407-6057 or by e-mail at"

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Judge kills Forest Service limit on appeals"
"HELENA, Mont. - A federal judge struck down regulations that limited the public's ability to challenge U.S. Forest Service decisions on timber sales and other projects. "The judge issued an injunction Monday against a rule that required people to specify objections to Forest Service projects while they are under consideration, or forfeit the right to challenge them later. The injunction applies nationwide."

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla seek $50M slice of the new Columbia Basin pie

"The $200 million program seeks to make more water available by increasing storage in new reservoirs. Two-thirds of the water would go to users like farmers and cities, and one-third would go back to the river for fish. "The Umatilla tribes - which have treaty rights on the Washington side of the border - are first asking for $400,000 to complete an Army Corps of Engineers study on their leading alternatives. "The final project will likely either be a new reservoir on Pine Creek, a tributary in Oregon, or a system of pumps, pipes and canals that will replace irrigation draws with water from the Columbia. "The $50 million would be Washington state's share of the overall construction price, which is estimated to cost at least $250 million."

The problem of the Hanford tanks

"'You wonder how long it's going to be before the tanks are in such bad shape that it's like retrieving (waste) from a tank that's really not there,' said Suzanne Dahl, state Ecology Department project manager for the tanks. 'It's like this slow-moving potential disaster in front of you,' she said."