Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Point Wells: Asphalt Plant to Urban Center?

Residential neighbors in Snohomish County and northern King County are concerned. Lynn Thompson, writing in the Seattle Times, describes the project and the concerns.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Negotiations Set to Commence in Upper Kittitas County Exempt Well Controversy

On Friday, July 24, the Department of Ecology announced it will be renewing talks with Kittitas County concerning its recently announced emergency rule. .

Quoting Ecology:

At the request of Gov. Chris Gregoire, Washington Ecology Director Jay Manning met with Kittitas County Commission Chair Alan Crankovich and, as a result, negotiations regarding an alternative groundwater management rule will recommence as early as next week.

Ecology's website has a page with some of the background on this issue.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Exempt Wells for Stock Watering

Updating a previous entry on the Center for Environmental Law and Policy's (CELP) opposition to Easterday Ranches' proposed use of exempt groundwater for a new feedlot in Franklin County: On Jan. 8, 2009, Ecology denied CELP's petition for a declaratory order based on Easterday's right to decline to be a party to the proceeding. On June 11, Ecology announced that it had approved the transfer of a water right to 316 acre-feet of water to Easterday Ranches for use at the proposed feedlot. Easterday will apparently still need to draw on exempt groundwater to meet its needs for the 30,000 head facility.

A useful summary of this matter, including links to key documents, can be found on Ecology's website.

Ecology is continuing to ask for legislative clarification of the scope of the stockwatering exemption in the groundwater code. Quoting Ecology's FAQ on the Easterday feedlot:

Several bills to amend and clarify RCW 90.44.050 were introduced in the 2009 session of the Washington Legislature. All of these bills died in session. An interim working group comprised of legislators and representatives of the dairy and livestock industries and Ecology staff will convene later this year in an attempt to draft a statutory amendment to be considered during the 2010 session of the Legislature.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oregon State Senator Considers Selling Columbia Water to California

The East Oregonian reports that state Senator David Nelson made the suggestion while addressing the Rotary Club in Pendleton. Quoting the paper:
Nelson said he tends to look at Oregon's natural resources in trying to figure out how to pay for state programs. He said 90 percent of Oregon timber is off limits for harvesting, in explaining why he considers selling "surplus" Columbia River water.

In discussion with members of the audience, Nelson acknowledged more questions than answers on his idea. He said he knew of no precedents for such a sale of water. He mentioned that Oregon's ownership of the Columbia River extends to halfway across the channel. Among ways of getting water from the Columbia to the Southwest: a pipeline and/or rail cars.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Teck America, Inc. Enters Voluntary Cleanup Agreement For Black Sand Beach, Upper Columbia

"The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Teck American Inc. (Teck) in Spokane this week signed a detailed voluntary agreement to remove slag from a beach area on the Upper Columbia River known as Black Sand Beach. The slag, which has the appearance of black sand, is an industrial byproduct from a metals smelting facility operated by Teck Metals Ltd. (formerly Teck Cominco) in Trail B.C."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Upper Kittitas County Closed to New Groundwater Withdrawals

From Ecology
Emergency rule closes new groundwater withdrawals in upper Kittitas County YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will file an emergency rule that closes upper Kittitas County to all new groundwater withdrawals, the agency announced Thursday, July 16. After nearly two years of negotiations, Ecology was unable to gain a commitment from the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners that they were willing to move forward with a memorandum of agreement and alternative rule approach that would have limited the uncontrolled proliferation of so-called “exempt groundwater wells” in upper Kittitas County.