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Throughout the Western United States, water is becoming scarce.  While Washington is certainly better off than the southwest, many counties in Washington are feeling the pinch of water scarcity.  And climate change will turn that pinch into a vice-like squeeze unless we act wisely now to balance the competing demands on our aquifers and rivers from population growth, agriculture and industry, as well as the instream flows needed to sustain fish, wildlife, water quality, and recreation.

Umatilla Tribal Members saving straanded salmon.  (Photo courtesy of Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Nation (2000))Umatilla
Umatilla Tribal Members saving stranded salmon. Photo courtesy of Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Nation (2000)

Regulating water quantity and quality falls to the state, but the state often lacks the resources and political will to take action.  Yet, as water becomes more scarce, citizens in Washington are finding their aquifers and rivers increasingly at risk.  So to whom can they turn for help?

CELP’s Water 9-1-1 Program works directly with citizens whose water is at risk.  CELP staff and volunteers provide technical and policy assistance to citizens to help them solve local water issues—from threatened potential pollution of a sole source aquifer from a gravel mine to loss of a prized waterfall to a hydroelectric project.

If you are grappling with a water problem in your watershed, please contact us and we will try to help.

Some of CELP’s Water 9-1-1 work includes:

Assisting Aqua Permanente, family farmers in the Yakima River basin who hold junior water rights, protect their property and economic interests, and the public’s right to sustainable rivers and aquifers, by successfully petitioning the Washington Department of  Ecology to close the upper Kittitas Valley to new, unmitigated groundwater uses based upon permit exempt wells.  See WAC. 173-539A.

Assisting the Five Corner Family Farmers, dryland farmers in Franklin County, Washington, mount a fight against a 30,000 head stockwatering operation that threatened the farmers’ domestic wells and polluted the surrounding area.  CELP helped the Five Corner Family Farmers bring their case all the way to the Washington State Supreme Court.  The outcome was a disappointment, but CELP continues to work to rein in large dairies to protect local communities.

Truck spreading manure.  John Osborn photo
Truck spreading manure. John Osborn photo

Helping residents of the Yakima Valley and rural Puget Sound to stop pollution of their drinking water aquifers and streams from animal waste from large dairies and stockyards.  We are advocating for more effective regulation to keep animal waste, and other pollutants, out of our drinking water.  Our partners include:  the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, CARE, the Sierra Club, and the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.

CELP is also part of the What’s Upstream” Coalition to curb pollution of our rivers and streams.  Puget Sound Recovery depends upon controlling point and nonpoint agricultural pollution. Agricultural waste is a significant  source of pollution in Puget Sound.  

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