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Kimberly Ordon aka KO, Water Hero 2021

Kimberly Ordon is a graduate of the University of Colorado (BA 1976; MA 1980) and of Lewis & Clark Law School (JD 1985).  Kimberly started her legal career representing tribes at the Native American Program of Oregon Legal Services in Portland, Oregon. In 1986 she received a Reginald Heber Smith (Reggie) Fellowship through Howard University to continue her work with tribes.  While working with the Klamath Tribe, Kimberly began her career-long advocacy for tribal fishing rights.  At the end of her Fellowship, she was invited by the Tulalip Tribes to continue the battle to protect salmon and their habitat.

Kimberly happily served as an attorney for the Tulalip Tribes for over 30 years—the Best Job Ever—with great leadership and colleagues. A special mention goes to Terry R. Williams and Daryl Williams who always made work fun and covered for KO when she hung herself with the ample lengths of rope they gave her.  During her tenure with Tulalip, KO handled a wide variety of matters with a particular focus on tribal and treaty reserved water rights.  In the late 80’s and early 90’s Terry got the bright idea to get the State to work with the tribes to convene an effort to forge an agreement on water resources policy. The intent of the effort was to protect existing rights and guide future rules and policy for water resource conservation and use.  The Chelan Water Resources Agreement kicked off with a large and varied cast of stakeholders. Kimberly received the 1991 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for her work on the Water Resource Policy Interim Team.

Though the Chelan Agreement was never finalized, water became, and still is, the issue de jour.  And because a negotiated agreement involving so much effort and time failed, it left a bad taste in many mouths. Litigation looked like the next best solution.

Between 1995-96 Ecology issued decisions in their application backlog.  Of their 600 decisions, half were appealed.  On behalf of Tulalip, KO appealed or joined in the appeals of 40 water rights decisions. The legacy of wins ended with Postema v PCHB, 142 Wn.2d 68 (2000). Postema recognized minimum instream flows as appropriations entitled to the same protection as any other water right. Along the way, KO also picked on municipal water rights several times. In DOE v Theodoratus, 133 Wn.2d 582 (1998) water rights could only be certified by Ecology to the extent of actual use instead of a developer’s system capacity.

In 1993 KO met Rachael Paschal (then) Osborn (now) at a conference and fell in with the nascent Center for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP). (She even helped Rachael move CELP into new offices—twice—). It’s been a long, educational, and rewarding association. KO thanks CELP for so much guidance and help along the way with the numerous cases and legislative efforts in which she represented Tulalip.

Kimberly now spends her time playing: traveling, scuba diving, and gardening. She found it difficult to sit at a computer, remember dates, case findings, research citations, and to condense a 35-year career into a few paragraphs.

Water Heroes
1. Rachel Paschal Osborn, Water Hero 2001
2. Benella Caminiti, Water Hero 2004
3. Nancy Rust, Water Hero 2006
4. Mickey Gendler, Water Hero 2008
5. Russ Busch, Water Hero 2010
6. Harriet Bullitt, Water Hero 2011
7. NW Indian Fisheries Commission, Water Hero 2012
8. Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Water Hero 2013
9. Ann Aagaard, Water Hero 2014
10. Upper Columbia United Tribes, Water Heroes 2015
11. Professor William H. Rodgers Jr., Water Hero 2016
12. Dr. John Osborn, Water Hero 2017
13. Water Heroes 2018
14. Larry Wasserman, Water Hero 2019
15. Professor Emeritus Robert Anderson, Water Hero 2020
16. Sharon Haensly, Water Hero 2021
17. Kimberly Ordon aka KO, Water Hero 2021
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