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Here are some highlights of CELP’s victories over the last 25 years. We look forward to another 25 years and many more victories.

Yakima River by Tom Ring

– Established “standing” for citizen challenges to state water right decisions (1995)

Salmon. WA Dept. Ecology

– Won recognition of interrelationship between ground and surface waters (1996)

– Shut down issuance of new groundwater rights in Yakima River Basin (1998)

– Defeated the water-squandering gold mine on Buckhorn Mountain (2000)

– Convinced Ecology to meter all water rights in critical salmon watersheds (2001)

– Established mitigation standards for new water rights (2003)

– Prevented local initiative from vetoing state water resource protections (2006)

– Protected Hines Marsh trumpeter swan habitat from developer’s wells (2007)

– Helped win recognition of counties’ responsibilities to protect instream flows and existing water rights in issuing building permits (2011)

Spokane River by John Osborn

– Defeated legislation that would have allowed new wells to suck dry environmental flows in rivers throughout Western Washington (2012)

– Required Spokane County’s new wastewater treatment plant to limit new discharges of PCBs into the Spokane River (2013)

– Saved Similkameen Falls from being dewatered for a new hydroelectric project (2013)

– Appealed a large, new unmitigated water right from the Columbia River (2014)

Columbia River by Julie Titone

– Organized an international alliance to support modernizing the Columbia River Treaty between the U.S. and Canada – including a call for restoring salmon to the Upper Columbia basin and including ecosystem functions as a goal of the Treaty (2014)

– Worked with allies to call for the removal of the Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River near Oroville (2015)

– Won a challenge against an insufficient EPA clean-up plan for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination and helping to clean up the Spokane River (2017)

Icicle Creek by John Osborn

– Ensured that the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery will begin monitoring and reporting its pollution discharge into Icicle Creek. (2017)

– Built relationships with community members, recreation business owners and Native American tribes in areas with unprotected watersheds by hiring a Water Policy Organizer (2018)

– Took the first steps to remove the Enloe Dam alongside partner organizations by filing several lawsuits that in part pressured the Okanogan County Public Utility District to table plans to re-electrify the dam. (2018)

– Coordinated our first Clean & Abundant Water Lobby day, assembling a coalition of organizations, activists, scientists, and fishermen from across Washington to raise their voices in support of our water resources. (2019)

– Filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals and helped shut down Crown West’s scheme to abuse municipal water law. (2019)

– A Win for the Spokane River: The court ruled in favor of Spokane River advocates, finding that the Washington Department of Ecology failed to protect summertime flows. (2019) (update)

Dungeness River by Steve Farquhar

– Helped protect the Dungeness River. Court of Appeals affirmed that Ecology did not exceed its statutory authority in adopting the Dungeness Rule or show that the department acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner in doing so. (2019)

– Four priority bills from our second annual Clean & Abundant Waters lobby day were signed into law. Our attendance for lobby day doubled, legislative districts represented also doubled, and we met with 45 legislators or their staff to advocate for our waters. (2020)

– Took a stand for our climate and protecting our future. Groups of young people who have been and will be harmed by the effects of climate change have filed suits against both the state and Federal governments, asking that the courts order action to stop harmful emissions of greenhouse gases. CELP filed an amicus brief in Aji P. et al. v. Washington on behalf of itself and a coalition of 10 other environmental groups, explaining the importance of a stable and healthful climate to the American concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The case is currently before the Division 1 of the Washington Court of Appeals awaiting a hearing date.

Yet, with all the victories we have celebrated, more work remains to meet the challenges of climate change and increased development. CELP seeks to reform our antiquated water laws and policies so that our future water use is truly sustainable for people and for the environment.

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